The Yuxi Circle: The World’s Most Densely Populated Area
If you wanted to capture over 55% of the global population inside a circle with a 4,000km radius, which city would you place at its epicenter?
In 2013, a post appeared on Reddit marking a circular area of the globe with “more people living inside this circle than outside of it.” The circle had a radius of 4,000 km (just under 2,500 miles) and was named the Valeriepieris circle after author Ken Myers’ username.
Acknowledging that the Valeriepieris circle is not actually a circle (it was drawn on a two-dimensional map rather than a globe) and is based on data that has become outdated, mapmaker Alasdair Rae went digging and discovered what he calls The Yuxi Circle, the world’s most densely populated area.
Introducing the Yuxi Circle
Rae traced circles around 1,500 cities worldwide to find out how many people lived within a 4,000 km radius, just like the original Valeriepieris circle. He based his calculations on WorldPop data from 2020, based on a global population of 7.8 billion people.
Of the 1,500 circles that Rae made calculations for, 148 contained populations of 4 billion or more. He found many examples in Asia including in China, Myanmar (Mandalay), Laos (Vientiane), Bangladesh (Chattogram), India (Agartala), Bhutan (Thimpu), and Vietnam (Hanoi) to name a few.
But of them all, Yuxi, a city in the Yunnan province of China, has the largest population living within a 4,000 km radius: 4.32 billion.
Put another way? The circle encompasses over 55% of the world’s population, despite including desolate areas like the Taklamakan Desert, the Tibetan Plateau, Mongolia, and Southern Siberia.
Densely Populated Areas Around the Globe
Rae’s search for densely populated clusters also turned up notable circles beyond Asia. They surrounded cities like Cairo, Paris, and Mexico City.
Note: Keep in mind that the white lines on the flat maps are equidistant circles but will only look like circles when plotted on a globe.
Circling Hanoi yields a population of 4.27 billion (54% of the global population). It was the runner up city circle in Rae’s original search.
Circling Cairo yields a population of 2.29 billion. This circle reaches most of Europe while still containing populated areas of India, Pakistan, and Africa.
Comparatively, circling Paris yields a population of 1.19 billion. This Euro-centric circle contains large tracts of water and scarcely populated islands such as Iceland and Greenland.
Across the Atlantic, circling Mexico City yields a population of 0.73 billion. It’s significantly smaller than the other circles, as the total population in the Americas is concentrated in just three countries, the U.S., Mexico, and Brazil (not included in this circle).
It’s worth noting that the Valeriepieris circle also inspired other people to look at population density in different ways. In 2015, Danny Quah of the London School of Economics looked more closely at the Valeriepieris circle and was inspired to find the smallest circle with more people living inside of it than outside. He determined that a circle with a radius of 3,300 km centered near Mong Khet, Myanmar was “the world’s tightest cluster of people.”
While the Yuxi Circle contains the largest population using Rae’s approach as of early 2022, global populations are constantly changing. Who knows where the next Yuxi Circle will be?
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.
Which Countries are the Most Polarized?
This chart plots polarization for various countries based on the Edelman Trust Institute’s annual survey of 32,000+ people.
Which Countries are the Most Polarized?
How do you measure something that’s made headlines for half a decade but is still difficult to quantify? We’re talking about polarization.
How Do You Quantify Polarization?
Edelman’s data on which countries are the most polarized comes from survey results asking respondents two very simple questions:
- How divided is their country?
- How entrenched is the divide?
The questions help bring to light the social issues a particular country is facing and the lack of consensus on those issues.
Plotted against each other, a chart emerges. A country in the top–right corner of the chart is “severely polarized.” Countries located closer to the lower–left are considered less polarized.
In the report, Edelman identifies four metrics to watch for and measure which help quantify polarization.
|Economic Anxieties||Will my family be better off in five years?|
|Institutional Imbalance||Government is viewed as unethical and incompetent.|
|Class Divide||People with higher incomes have a higher trust in institutions.|
|Battle for Truth||Echo chambers, and a low trust in media.|
Following Edelman’s metrics, countries with economic uncertainty and inequality as well as institutional distrust are more likely to be polarized. Below, we look at key highlights from the chart.
Severely Polarized Countries
Despite being one of the largest economies in Latin America, Argentina is the most polarized country surveyed by a large margin. Foreign loan defaults, a high fiscal deficit, and now surging inflation have created a perfect storm in the country.
43% of the Argentinian respondents said they will be better off in five years, down 17 percentage points from last year.
Along with fiscal upheaval, Argentinians are also dealing with enduring corruption in the public sector and abrupt policy reversals between governments. Only 20% of those surveyed in Argentina said they trusted the government—the least of all surveyed countries.
Here are all six of the countries considered to be severely polarized:
🇺🇸 United States
🇿🇦 South Africa
In the U.S., heightened political upheaval between Democrats and Republicans over the last few years has led to strengthening ideological stances and to an abundance of headlines about polarization. Only 42% of respondents in the country trust the government.
And in South Africa, persistent inequality and falling trust in the African National Congress also check off Edelman’s metrics. It’s also second after Argentina with the least trust in government (22%) per the survey.
Moderately Polarized Countries
The biggest cluster of 15 countries are in moderately polarized section of the chart, with all continents represented.
🇰🇷 South Korea
🇬🇧 United Kingdom
Some are on the cusp of being severely polarized, including economic heavyweights like Japan, the UK, France, and Germany. On the other hand, smaller economies like Thailand, Kenya, and Nigeria, are doing comparatively better on the polarization chart.
Less Polarized Countries
Countries with fair economic outlook and high trust in institutions including China, Singapore, and India are in the bottom left sector of the chart.
🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia
It’s interesting to note that of the seven countries in that sector, three are not democracies. That said, there are also more developing countries on this list as well, which could also be a factor.
Edelman notes that polarization is both “cause and consequence of distrust,” creating a self-fulfilling cycle. Aside from the four metrics stated above, concerns about the erosion of civility and weakening social fabric also lead to polarization.
As global events unfold in 2023—including looming worries of a recession—it will be fascinating to see how countries might switch positions in the year to come.
Markets2 days ago
Mapped: GDP Growth Forecasts by Country, in 2023
Markets2 weeks ago
Charted: The Dipping Cost of Shipping
Markets18 hours ago
Charted: Tesla’s Unrivaled Profit Margins
Technology4 weeks ago
Timeline: The Most Important Science Headlines of 2022
Technology2 weeks ago
Ranked: The Top 50 Most Visited Websites in the World
Datastream12 hours ago
Ranked: The Top Online Music Services in the U.S. by Monthly Users
Money4 weeks ago
Visualizing $65 Trillion in Hidden Dollar Debt
Automotive1 week ago
The Most Fuel Efficient Cars From 1975 to Today