Mapped: The Ancient Seven Wonders of the World
The Ancient Seven Wonders of the World
From skyscrapers that defy gravity to tunnels below the sea, mankind’s civil engineering feats are all around us.
The complexity of older structures like the Great Wall of China, Chichén Itzá, and the Taj Mahal continue to captivate and fascinate visitors today, but it’s worth noting that “wonders” such as these are not a modern concept.
As far back as the 2nd century BCE, ancient guide books and poems were being written by Greeks that had toured the extent of Alexander the Great’s kingdoms, giving us the original “seven wonders of the world” from the Hellenistic world they knew at the time.
This graphic by Pranav Gavali looks at the original ancient seven wonders, including their modern-day locations and features, using data from Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia.
Where Were the Seven Wonder of the World?
The original seven wonders of the world were built around the Mediterranean Sea and in the Middle East over a span of 3,000 years, all before the Common Era.
|Wonders||Modern Location||Year Created|
|Great Pyramid of Giza||Egypt||2,584 BCE|
|Hanging Gardens of Babylon||Iraq||600 BCE|
|Temple of Artemis at Ephesus||Turkey||550 BCE|
|Statue of Zeus at Olympia||Greece||435 BCE|
|Mausoleum at Halicarnassus||Turkey||351 BCE|
|Colossus of Rhodes||Greece||292 BCE|
|Lighthouse of Alexandria||Egypt||280 BCE|
From the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt to the Colossus in Rhodes, each wonder represents a different aspect of human ambition and ingenuity.
And while only one of the wonders still stands today, their legacy lives on. Let’s explore the stories behind the seven wonders of the world:
1. The Great Pyramid of Giza
— 2,584 BCE
The ancient Egyptians believed that death was a pitstop on the way to a new life, and royals were buried in massive royal tombs.
This 4,500-year-old pyramid was one such tomb, built for Pharaoh Khufu. Standing tall at an initial 147 meters (139 meters today), this monument is the oldest and largest of the seven wonders of the world. It is also the only ancient wonder still standing.
2. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
— 600 BCE
The Gardens of Babylon are believed to have provided a stunning oasis in the middle of the desert in 600 BCE, with tiered gardens of trees, shrubs, and vines.
The common belief is that King Nebuchadnezzar II built these gardens for his wife Amytis, who missed the lush hills of her homeland Media (northwest Iran).
However, their existence has been disputed by historians which have struggled to find concrete archaeological evidence. They are commonly believed to have been destroyed by an earthquake after 700 years, making them the shortest-lived ancient wonder.
3. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
— 550 BCE
Built in the 6th century BCE, this temple was dedicated to the Greek goddess Artemis. Even larger than a present-day football field and with more than 127 columns, it was the first all-marble temple ever built in Greece.
It was destroyed and rebuilt several times, with the third phase listed as the grandest world wonder. It was finally closed and destroyed around the start of the 5th century.
4. The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
— 435 BCE
In 435 BC, Greek sculptor Phidias was tasked with creating an enormous statue of Zeus in Olympia, the site of Temple of Zeus and the ancient Olympic Games.
The statue was seated on a throne made from ivory, gold, and wood, holding a massive scepter supporting an eagle in one hand and a small statue of Nike, the goddess of victory, in the other. It was believed to have been destroyed in the times of the Romans around 400 CE, but whether that was in a fire or if it were broken into pieces and sent to different cities, is unknown.
5. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
— 351 BCE
Much like today’s Alexandria or Babylon, Halicarnassus was a thriving ancient city and capital of Caria. Its most famous ruler was Mausolus, the king of Caria, and when building the capital he also commissioned an elaborate above-ground tomb for himself.
Built in 351 BCE, the Mausoleum was over 45 meters tall and adorned with stunning sculptures and intricate carvings. Though it was destroyed by many local earthquakes between the 12th and 15th centuries, its legacy lives on as the word mausoleum went on to define stately, magnificent tombs.
6. The Colossus of Rhodes
— 292 BCE
Back in 304 BCE, Greece’s harbor city of Rhodes successfully resisted a year-long siege, and its people celebrated by using abandoned weaponry to create an enormous statue of the ancient Greek god of the Sun, Helios.
It stood over the port entry to the city, and was about the same height (33 meters) as the Statue of Liberty from feet to crown. And though the Colossus technically fell after a 226 BCE earthquake, it lay on the ground and was still impressive for another 800 years.
7. The Lighthouse of Alexandria
— 280 BCE
Lighthouses serve as beacons for all those at sea, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria was no different. However, its impressive architectural design of 100 meters of sandstone and limestone was far from simple, being one of the world’s tallest man-made structures for centuries.
Built during the time of pharaoh Ptolemy II Philadelphus on the small island of Pharos, it was said to have been crowned with a mirror that reflected sunlight during the day and fire at night, making it visible from up to 50 km away. Though the lighthouse was damaged in earthquakes and survived until 1480, “pharos” became the root word for lighthouse in Greek and many Romance languages.
The New Seven Wonders of the World
To reflect the continued usage and understanding of the term “seven wonders of the world,” the New 7 Wonders Foundation started a campaign to choose seven new wonders in 2001.
After a large and lengthy campaign, with some countries advocating for statues and others downplaying the new list, the final list of wonders was announced in 2007:
|New Wonders||Location||Year Created|
|Great Wall of China||China||700 BCE|
|Chichén Itzá||Mexico||600 CE|
|Machu Picchu||Peru||1450 CE|
|Taj Mahal||India||1643 CE|
|Christ the Redeemer||Brazil||1931 CE|
And though it was not included as an option as an attempt to find “new” wonders, the Great Pyramid of Giza was still granted honorary status as a world wonder.
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.
Mapped: The World’s Happiest Countries in 2023
Where do the happiest people on earth live? This map is a snapshot of the world’s most (and least) happy countries in 2023.
The World’s Happiest Countries in 2023
Measuring subjective ideas like happiness and life satisfaction is tricky business.
Are wealth and prosperity legitimate measures of happiness? How about safety and health outcomes? In the West, we view democracy as a key component to happiness, yet there are countries under authoritarian rule that score high in the Happiness Index. Questions like these make “ranking happiness” a particularly challenging puzzle, but also one worth pursuing. If policymakers have a clearer picture of what conditions can foster happiness, they can enact policies that can improve the lives of people living their jurisdictions.
The map above is a global snapshot of life satisfaction around the world. It utilizes the World Happiness Report—an annual survey of how satisfied citizens are worldwide—to map out the world’s happiest and least happy countries.
To create the index the map is based on, researchers simply asked people how satisfied they are with their lives. Scores were assigned using these self-reported answers from people living within various countries, as well as quality of life factors. While there may be no perfect measure of happiness around the world, the report is a robust and transparent attempt to understand happiness at the global level. For more detailed notes on the report’s methodology and more, we recommend viewing the info box at the end of this article.
Now, let’s look at the world’s happiest countries in 2023.
Global Happiness, by Country
Global happiness currently averages out to 5.5 out of 10, a decrease of 0.1 from last year. Below is a look at every country’s score:
|#10||🇳🇿 New Zealand||7.1|
|#15||🇺🇸 United States||6.9|
|#19||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||6.8|
|#23||🇨🇷 Costa Rica||6.6|
|#30||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||6.5|
|#50||🇸🇻 El Salvador||6.1|
|#57||🇰🇷 South Korea||6.0|
|#71||🇧🇦 Bosnia and Herzegovina||5.6|
|#73||🇩🇴 Dominican Republic||5.6|
|#82||🇭🇰 Hong Kong SAR||5.3|
|#85||🇿🇦 South Africa||5.3|
|#87||🇲🇰 North Macedonia||5.3|
|#93||🇨🇮 Ivory Coast||5.1|
|#104||🇧🇫 Burkina Faso||4.6|
|#112||🇱🇰 Sri Lanka||4.4|
|#133||🇨🇩 Democratic Republic of the Congo||3.2|
|#135||🇸🇱 Sierra Leone||3.1|
Note: Scores have been rounded to the first decimal place.
European countries make up the bulk of the top 10, with Israel (#4) and New Zealand (#10) also making it into the top ranks. Finland sits at the very top of the ranking for the sixth year in a row.
Now let’s look at the world’s happiest countries on a more regional basis.
Current Mood: Happy (6.3)
North America’s happiness score averages out to 6.3/10. The happiest country in the region is Canada, slightly beating out the United States. However, the scores of both countries have actually decreased from last year. It’s difficult to pinpoint why citizens feel less satisfied, but inflation, economic uncertainty, and many other factors could play a role.
The only countries to see improvement in North America were Nicaragua and Jamaica. Although a more recent development, many Jamaicans could be experiencing even more happiness in the near future, with a recent announcement of plans to increase the minimum wage by 44%.
Current Mood: Content (5.8)
South America’s average score is 5.8. Although Venezuela is the continent’s least happy country, its score actually improved from 4.9 to 5.2. That said, the ongoing humanitarian and economic crisis is not likely to instill much hope into the average Venezuelan. Over 6.8 million people have fled the struggling nation since 2014.
The two countries in the region with decreased scores were Brazil and Colombia, where citizens have reported feeling worse compared to the year before.
Current Mood: Happy (6.4)
Europe has some of the world’s happiest countries, with an average regional score of 6.4. Nordic countries like Finland, Sweden, and Iceland repeatedly report high scores, meaning people in these countries feel extremely satisfied with their lives.
Despite fending off an invasion, Ukrainians saw no diminishment of their happiness year-over-year, and many are feeling resilient and purposeful in their fight for freedom. Interestingly, Russia’s score actually increased slightly compared to last year, going from 5.5 to 5.7.
East Asia and Oceania
Current Mood: Neutral (5.6)
East Asia and Oceania’s collective average is 5.6. Oceania alone, however, would have the highest regional score in the world, at 7.1.
Bucking conventional wisdom—at least in the West—China has seen a noteworthy bump (+0.6) in its score in recent years. Across the strait, Taiwan records the second highest score in East Asia, after Singapore.
India once again has the lowest happiness score in its region. The country’s score has dropped -0.7 over the past decade.
Central Asia and The Middle East
Current Mood: It’s Complicated (5.2)
The average score in the Middle East and Central Asia is 5.2, and the array of happiness scores is wider than in any other region.
Afghanistan is the world’s least happy country, with citizens having reported extremely low levels of life satisfaction. Since the Taliban takeover, life has become objectively worse for Afghans, particularly women.
There is a lot of conflict in the region. Citizens of Armenia face particular tension with neighboring Azerbaijan, whose score was not recorded for this year. Conflicts in the Nagorno-Karabakh region have led to hundreds of deaths since 2020 and cause daily struggle for those who live in the disputed territory. Iran is still under economic sanctions and faces ongoing tensions with the U.S. and Israel. Some countries, like Syria and Yemen, are so destabilized that no data is available.
Still, there are bright spots as well. Israel has one of the world’s happiest countries with a top 10 score this year, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE have scores on par with many European countries.
Current Mood: Unhappy (4.4)
The least happy region, Africa, averages out to a score of 4.4, and there is a lot of regional variation.
The highest score in Africa goes to the island nation of Mauritius. In addition to the country’s natural beauty and stability, there is growing economic opportunity. Mauritius is classified as an upper-middle-income country by World Bank, and is one of the fastest growing high-income markets in the world.
Sierra Leone has the lowest score of African countries that were included in the index, followed by Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It’s worth noting, there are a few data gaps in the region, including Burundi, which is currently the poorest country in the world.
Where does this data come from?
Source: The World Happiness Report which leverages data from the Gallup World Poll.
Methodology: A nationally representative group of approximately 1,000 people is asked a series of questions relating to their life satisfaction, as well as positive and negative emotions they are experiencing. The life evaluation question is based on the Cantril ladder, wherein the top of the ladder represents the best possible life for a person (a score of 10/10) and on the flipside, the worst possible life (scored as 0/10). The main takeaway is that the scores result from self-reported answers by citizens of each of these countries. The results received a confidence interval of 95%, meaning that there is a 95% chance that the answers and population surveyed represent the average. As well, scores are averaged over the past three years in order to increase the sample size of respondents in each country.
Criticisms: Critics of the World Happiness Report point out that survey questions measure satisfaction with socioeconomic conditions as opposed to individual emotional happiness. As well, there are myriad cultural differences around the world that influence how people think about happiness and life satisfaction. Finally, there can be big differences in life satisfaction between groups within a country, which are averaged out even in a nationally representative group. The report does acknowledge inequality as a factor by measuring the “gap” between the most and least happy halves of each country.
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