Visualizing the Decline of Freedom Over 12 Consecutive Years
The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.
Like many other things in this world, the amount of freedom that people have ebbs and flows with time.
In general, it can be argued that political and economic freedoms have been increasing steadily since The Enlightenment – but of course, there are always shorter corrections along the way where freedom seems to spiral downwards in the interim.
Right now, we’re in one of those ruts, and global freedom has consecutively declined for a 12 year period.
Democracy in Crisis
Freedom in the World, a report published every year since 1973, attempts to measure civil liberties and political rights around the world. It’s put together by Freedom House, a non-governmental organization based in the United States.
According to their index, here is the share of “free” countries globally between 1973-2018:
This year’s report for 2018 is entitled “Democracy in Crisis”, and it sounds the alarm on eroding freedom throughout the world.
While the number of “free” countries is holding fairly steady at close to 45%, there is a clear downtrend with the scores of the countries themselves.
In 2017, for example, there were 71 countries that had net declines in score, while only 35 had net increases. This makes for a differential of -36, which is the widest gap during the 12 year downtrend.
Why do scores continue to decline?
Here are some of the specific examples, cited by the report:
- The erosion of democratic norms in the U.S., which is actually the extension of a seven year trend
- The expansion of influence from key autocracies, particularly Russia and China
- Turkey’s transition from “Partly Free” to “Not Free” – the result of President Erdoğan asserting more control over the country
- Big drops in the scores of European countries like Poland and Hungary, where populist leaders are consolidating power
- Another drop in Venezuela’s score, as the country undergoes a full-blown humanitarian crisis
- A recent backslide in the scores in Arab Spring countries – even in Tunisia, which was heralded as a democratic success story
For much more in-depth reading, here is a link to the full report PDF.
Ranked: The World’s Top Diamond Mining Countries, by Carats and Value
Who are the leaders in rough diamond production and how much is their diamond output worth?
Ranked: World Diamond Mining By Country, Carat, and Value
Only 22 countries in the world engage in rough diamond production—also known as uncut, raw or natural diamonds—mining for them from deposits within their territories.
This chart, by Sam Parker illustrates the leaders in rough diamond production by weight and value. It uses data from Kimberly Process (an international certification organization) along with estimates by Dr. Ashok Damarupurshad, a precious metals and diamond specialist in South Africa.
Rough Diamond Production, By Weight
Russia takes the top spot as the world’s largest rough diamond producer, mining close to 42 million carats in 2022, well ahead of its peers.
Russia’s large lead over second-place Botswana (24.8 million carats) and third-ranked Canada (16.2 million carats) indicates that the country’s diamond production is circumventing sanctions due to the difficulties in tracing a diamond’s origin.
Here’s a quick breakdown of rough diamond production in the world.
|5||🇿🇦 South Africa||9,660,233|
|10||🇸🇱 Sierra Leone||688,970|
|18||🇨🇮 Cote D'Ivoire||3,904|
|19||🇨🇬 Republic of Congo||3,534|
Note: South Africa’s figures are estimated.
As with most other resources, (oil, gold, uranium), rough diamond production is distributed unequally. The top 10 rough diamond producing countries by weight account for 99.2% of all rough diamonds mined in 2022.
Diamond Mining, by Country
However, higher carat mined doesn’t necessarily mean better value for the diamond. Other factors like the cut, color, and clarity also influence a diamond’s value.
Here’s a quick breakdown of diamond production by value (USD) in 2022.
|5||🇿🇦 South Africa||$1,538M|
|9||🇸🇱 Sierra Leone||$143M|
|19||🇨🇬 Republic of Congo||$0.20M|
|20||🇨🇮 Cote D'Ivoire||$0.16M|
Note: South Africa’s figures are estimated. Furthermore, numbers have been rounded and may not sum to the total.
Thus, even though Botswana only produced 59% of Russia’s diamond weight in 2022, it had a trade value of nearly $5 billion, approximately 1.5 times higher than Russia’s for the same year.
Another example is Angola, which is ranked 6th in diamond production, but 3rd in diamond value.
Both countries (as well as South Africa, Canada, and Namibia) produce gem-quality rough diamonds versus countries like Russia and the DRC whose diamonds are produced mainly for industrial use.
Which Regions Produce the Most Diamonds in 2022?
Unsurprisingly, Africa is the largest rough diamond producing region, accounting for 51% of output by weight, and 66% by value.
|Rank||Region||Share of Rough|
Diamond Production (%)
|Share of Rough
Diamond Value (%)
However diamond mining in Africa is a relatively recent phenomenon, fewer than 200 years old. Diamonds had been discovered—and prized—as far back as 2,000 years ago in India, later on spreading west to Egyptian pharaohs and the Roman Empire.
By the start of the 20th century, diamond production on a large scale took off: first in South Africa, and decades later in other African countries. In fact between 1889–1959, Africa produced 98% of the world’s diamonds.
And in the latter half of the 20th century, the term blood diamond evolved from diamonds mined in African conflict zones used to finance insurgency or crime.
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