What Did World Leaders Study at School?
When it comes to the extremely challenging job of running a nation, a university education can help in setting up a leader for success. The vast majority of heads of government have some sort of post-secondary education – 83%, in fact – but their areas of study vary greatly.
Some leaders, like Alain Berset of Switzerland, specifically studied political science or law in university. Other leaders, such as Paraguayan president, Horacio Cartes, took a more roundabout path to the top, having studied aviation mechanics in the United States.
The following maps, from SavingSpot, are an informative look at what national leaders around the world studied in school.
Note: Hover over the maps to learn about leaders and their educational background.
Donald Trump: America’s president holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business.
Justin Trudeau: Canada’s prime minister holds two degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in Literature from McGill University, and a Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia.
Enrique Peña Nieto: Mexico’s president holds a law degree from Universidad Panamerica, and an MBA from the Monterrey Institute of Technology.
Angela Merkel: Germany’s chancellor has a heavy-hitting educational background. Merkel was educated at Karl Marx University, in Leipzig, where she studied physics from 1973 to 1978. She was awarded a doctorate for her thesis on quantum chemistry in 1986, and was recognized for her proficiency in Russian and mathematics.
Emmanuel Macron: The French president studied philosophy at the University of Paris-Ouest Nanterre La Défense. As well, Macron obtained a master’s degree in public affairs at the Paris Institute of Political Studies.
Stefan Löfven: Sweden’s prime minister took a more unconventional path to government. After completing military service in the Swedish Air Force, Löfven became a welder and subsequently a union representative. Eventually, Löfven became the first chairman of IF Metall, a newly formed trade union representing over 300,000 workers.
Vladimir Putin: Before joining the KGB in 1975, Putin studied Law at the Leningrad State University (now Saint Petersburg State University).
Xi Jinping: Xi studied chemical engineering at Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University. During this time, China was fully immersed in the Cultural Revolution. Xi studied as a “Worker-Peasant-Soldier student”, which included blocks of time spent doing farm work and studying Marxism–Leninism–Mao Zedong thought.
John Magufuli: Tanzania’s president has an extensive educational background, earning masters and doctorate degrees in chemistry from The University of Dar es Salaam.
Uhuru Kenyatta: The Kenyan president studied economics, political science, and government at Amherst College in Massachusetts.
Michel Temer: Brazil’s president attended the Law School of the University of São Paulo, and later completed a doctorate in public law at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo.
Mauricio Macri: Before becoming an analyst at SIDECO Americana, Argentina’s president received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina. He also attended Columbia Business School, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and the Universidad del CEMA in Buenos Aires.
Malcolm Turnbull: Australia’s prime minister graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws, before earning a Bachelor of Civil Law at Brasenose College, Oxford.
Enele Sopoaga: The prime minister of the tiny island nation of Tuvalu is one of many world leaders educated in the United Kingdom. Sopoaga earned a Certificate in Diplomatic Studies from Oxford University, and a master’s degree from the University of Sussex.
This is How Much NATO Countries Spend on Defense
How much does each country in the military alliance contribute to NATO defense spending? We break it down with this map.
This Is How Much NATO Countries Spend on Defense
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) exists for the sole purpose of facilitating a political and military alliance between almost 30 countries. All are obligated to one another in times of war, but some countries have much stronger militaries and defense systems than others.
Using data from NATO, this map reveals what each NATO member country spends on its own national defense.
Note: Numbers are 2021 projections.
Biggest NATO Defense Spenders
The U.S. spends more on defense than any other NATO country.
According to the 2021 estimates, U.S. defense spending will be close to $811 billion this year. On the other hand, the defense spending of all other NATO countries combined is projected to be $363 billion, meaning the U.S. will outspend all other countries by a whopping $448 billion.
|Rank||Country||Millions (USD) 2021p||Change (2014-2021)|
|#1||🇺🇸 United States||$811,140||24.0%|
|#2||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||$72,765||10.8%|
|#16||🇨🇿 Czech Republic||$4,013||103.2%|
|#28||🇲🇰 North Macedonia||$219||76.6%|
NATO is based on building up forces and equipment for the goal of joint security and defense. And, despite the pandemic, many members did increase their spending in 2020.
However, not all countries contribute equally. The agreed-upon target for European NATO members, for example, is to spend 2% of GDP on defense by 2024, but many countries are not on track to meet this goal.
Who Pays for NATO Itself?
One of the key pillars of NATO is collective defense: a commitment to the idea that an act of violence against one or more of its member states is an act of aggression towards all.
Collective defense, cooperative security, and crisis management are at the heart of NATO’s purpose and operations.
Apart from defense spending, running a transcontinental political alliance costs around $3 billion annually. So which countries foot the bill for these expenses?
|Country||Cost Share Arrangements
|🇺🇸 United States||16.36%|
|🇬🇧 United Kingdom||11.29%|
|🇨🇿 Czech Republic||1.06%|
Members have pre-arranged mechanisms to divide NATO alliance expenses evenly.
Getting into specifics, the members are paying for:
- Civilian staff wages and overhead costs of running NATO headquarters.
- Running strategic commands, joint operations, early warning and radar systems, training, etc.
- Defense communications systems, harbors, airfields, and fuel supplies.
The Future of NATO
While outright nation-on-nation conflict is becoming more rare, threats to the collective security of NATO allies have not disappeared.
While countries may have differing opinions over the exact amount each should contribute, rising expenditures are a sign that NATO is still a priority for the near future.
Map Explainer: Key Facts About Afghanistan
This map explainer looks at Afghanistan from a structural point of view, delving into geography and population patterns.
Map Explainer: Key Facts About Afghanistan
The country of Afghanistan has a long and complicated history of domination by foreign powers and conflict between factions within the country.
While Afghanistan is well covered in headlines and news stories, the lion’s share of this coverage is directly related to conflict. As a result, Afghanistan is viewed by many in Western countries as a war-torn desert, with conflict, ideology, and geopolitical power obscuring more practical information about the country and its people.
In the Afghanistan map graphic above, we step back and examine Afghanistan from a structural point of view. How does its unique landscape influence population patterns? How does this geography influence the economy and relationships with neighboring nations? Let’s dive in.
Mountain High, Valley Low
Afghanistan’s rugged landscape is defined by towering snow-capped mountains, fertile valleys, and expansive deserts.
First, the country has a wide variety of climate extremes. There is more than 100ºC (180ºF) separating the record high and low temperatures.
The extremes don’t stop at temperature though. Afghanistan has the sixth-highest elevation span in the world, with 7,234m (23,734 ft) between its highest and lowest point. Afghanistan is one of 44 landlocked nations in the world, which helps explain why its lowest point is so much higher than sea level.
For those living in North America, the country’s terrain has been compared to Colorado, with Kabul sharing similarities with Denver.
Where Do People Live in Afghanistan?
Settlement patterns in Afghanistan are similar to other countries in the region; people cluster where there is access to fresh water.
As the cartogram below demonstrates, a large portion of the country’s population is located around Kabul, and the region adjacent to the Kabul River.
The southwestern province of Nimruz is the most sparsely populated area in the country. The Wakhan Corridor—which connects Afghanistan to China—is also very sparsely populated, with about 14,000 total residents.
Key Facts About Afghanistan’s Demographics
Afghanistan has a very youthful population. The country’s median age of 19 years is one of the youngest in the world, and is low compared to its neighbors Pakistan (24) and Iran (30).
Islam is the official state religion of Afghanistan. 99.7% of the Afghan population are Muslim, one of the highest proportions of the 49 Muslim-majority countries.
So far in 2021, the OCHA estimates that 550,000 people in Afghanistan are “internally displaced” due to conflict, and this number may rise still as new data tracks the final days of the Taliban’s takeover of the country. The majority of those displaced persons are children.
Paving the Way
The Ring Road connecting Afghanistan’s major cities began in the 1960s but was soon cut short by war. After the U.S. took control in 2001, new road construction began in earnest.
Between 2002 and 2016, USAID and the Department of Defense (DoD) spent approximately $2.8 billion building and maintaining Afghanistan’s road infrastructure. This number doesn’t include additional investment from other sources that poured in to improve the country’s road network.
The result is a more comprehensive road network, but one that is difficult to maintain. A 2016 report found collapsed bridges and sections of road around the country that were washed out.
Resources and Relationships
Afghanistan is a critical source of fresh water for the arid region. Several major regional rivers flow from the country’s mountainous eastern provinces into neighboring countries, so any new irrigation schemes and dam infrastructure will come with a geopolitical price tag as well.
Already in the recent past, tensions have increased with Iran and Pakistan over the flow of water crossing the border.
Outside countries are also very interested in Afghanistan’s rich mineral resources. Decades of near-continuous conflict have made mining a tough proposition in the country, but with growing demand for resources such as lithium and rare earths, that may soon change.
Afghanistan is estimated to have over $1 trillion of untapped mineral reserves, and outside interests are taking notice.
China said it was ready for “friendly and cooperative relations” with the new Taliban regime, and it’s possible that investment from China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) may step in to fill the vacuum left by departing Western powers.
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