Map: The Top Tourist Attraction in Every Country
View the high resolution version of today’s graphic by clicking here.
Even as early as a decade ago, if you were backpacking in a foreign place, it was not uncommon to rely on the wisdom printed in travel guides such as Lonely Planet or Rick Steves to choose your day-to-day activities.
“Go off the beaten path to see this secluded black sand beach that’s only used by locals.”
“See this historic city tour, because it’s a hidden treasure that you won’t find in any other guidebook.”
Tips like these felt like secrets only privy to you and other smart readers – and while you were sitting on that hidden black sand beach, you could revel in the fact that the rest of the travelling masses were stuck in a two-hour line to get into some silly tourist trap.
For better or worse, things are now very different.
The Crowdsourced Era
Today’s infographic comes to us from Vouchercloud, and it shows the top rated “Thing to Do” for every single country in the world, according to Tripadvisor reviews.
In other words, the list is based on the amalgamation of millions of reviews from fellow travelers that have experienced these sights or activities first-hand.
On the upside, these reviews are coming from your peers. People just like you have rated all of the attractions in an area – from tourist trap to hidden gem – and the end result is pretty fair and democratic.
But this democratic component also has a downside. In the United Kingdom, for example, the highest rated activity is not seeing Big Ben, Ancient Roman baths, Stonehenge, or the Churchill War Rooms – it’s the Harry Potter Studio Tour, with 32,000+ reviews and 83% of reviewers giving it a perfect 5-star rating.
While the Harry Potter tour is obviously a popular attraction, it’s not likely representative of the type of attractions that old school travel critics may have raved about in their travel books.
Top Things to Do
In the map, the top tourist destinations are broken down based on the type of attraction.
Here’s the mix of top destinations for the 197 countries and jurisdictions included in the analysis:
|Type of attraction||# of countries||% of countries|
The top category of attraction is natural (38.6%), which includes places like Canada’s Niagara Falls or Norway’s Geiranger Fjord. Meanwhile, historic attractions like China’s Great Wall made up 27.4% of the total, and places of religious significance such as Thailand’s Temple of the Reclining Buddha were the top tourist attraction for 14.7% of the countries.
The remaining category, called “Tourist” includes a much wider variety of destinations within it.
These attractions range from Central Park in the New York City to the aforementioned Harry Potter Studio Tours in the United Kingdom. The wide category also includes museums like France’s Musee d’Orsay, which holds a staggering collection of impressionist art, as well as Germany’s Miniatur Wunderland, which is a massive miniature railroad in Hamburg.
Mapped: Human Impact on the Earth’s Surface
This detailed map looks at where humans have (and haven’t) modified Earth’s terrestrial environment. See human impact in incredible detail.
Mapped: Human Impact on the Earth’s Surface
With human population on Earth approaching 8 billion (we’ll likely hit that milestone in 2023), our impact on the planet is becoming harder to ignore with each passing year.
Our cities, infrastructure, agriculture, and pollution are all forms of stress we place on the natural world. This map, by David M. Theobald et al., shows just how much of the planet we’ve now modified. The researchers estimate that 14.6% or 18.5 million km² of land area has been modified – an area greater than Russia.
Defining Human Impact
Human impact on the Earth’s surface can take a number of different forms, and researchers took a nuanced approach to classifying the “modifications” we’ve made. In the end, 10 main stressors were used to create this map:
- Built-Up Areas: All of our cities and towns
- Agriculture: Areas devoted to crops and pastures
- Energy and extractive resources: Primarily locations where oil and gas are extracted
- Mines and quarries: Other ground-based natural resource extraction, excluding oil and gas
- Power plants: Areas where energy is produced – both renewable and non-renewable
- Transportation and service corridors: Primarily roads and railways
- Logging: This measures commodity-based forest loss (excludes factors like wildfire and urbanization)
- Human intrusion: Typically areas adjacent to population centers and roads that humans access
- Natural systems modification: Primarily modifications to water flow, including reservoir creation
- Pollution: Phenomenon such as acid rain and fog caused by air pollution
The classification descriptions above are simplified. See the methodology for full descriptions and calculations.
A Closer Look at Human Impact on the Earth’s Surface
To help better understand the level of impact humans can have on the planet, we’ll take a closer look three regions, and see how the situation on the ground relates to these maps.
Land Use Contrasts: Egypt
Almost all of Egypt’s population lives along the Nile and its delta, making it an interesting place to examine land use and human impact.
The towns and high intensity agricultural land following the river stand out clearly on the human modification map, while the nearby desert shows much less impact.
Intensive Modification: Netherlands
The Netherlands has some of the heavily modified landscapes on Earth, so the way it looks on this map will come as no surprise.
The area shown above, Rotterdam’s distinctive port and surround area, renders almost entirely in colors at the top of the human modification scale.
Resource Extraction: West Virginia
It isn’t just cities and towns that show up clearly on this map, it’s also the areas we extract our raw materials from as well. This mountainous region of West Virginia, in the United States, offers a very clear visual example.
The mountaintop removal method of mining—which involves blasting mountains in order to retrieve seams of bituminous coal—is common in this region, and mine sites show up clearly in the map.
You can explore the interactive version of this map yourself to view any area on the globe. What surprises you about these patterns of human impact?
Interactive Map: Tracking Global Hunger and Food Insecurity
Every day, hunger affects more than 700 million people. This live map from the UN highlights where hunger is hitting hardest around the world.
Interactive Map: Tracking Global Hunger and Food Insecurity
Hunger is still one the biggest—and most solvable—problems in the world.
Every day, more than 700 million people (8.8% of the world’s population) go to bed on an empty stomach, according to the UN World Food Programme (WFP).
The WFP’s HungerMap LIVE displayed here tracks core indicators of acute hunger like household food consumption, livelihoods, child nutritional status, mortality, and access to clean water in order to rank countries.
After sitting closer to 600 million from 2014 to 2019, the number of people in the world affected by hunger increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020, 155 million people (2% of the world’s population) experienced acute hunger, requiring urgent assistance.
The Fight to Feed the World
The problem of global hunger isn’t new, and attempts to solve it have making headlines for decades.
On July 13, 1985, at Wembley Stadium in London, Prince Charles and Princess Diana officially opened Live Aid, a worldwide rock concert organized to raise money for the relief of famine-stricken Africans.
The event was followed by similar concerts at other arenas around the world, globally linked by satellite to more than a billion viewers in 110 nations, raising more than $125 million ($309 million in today’s dollars) in famine relief for Africa.
But 35+ years later, the continent still struggles. According to the UN, from 12 countries with the highest prevalence of insufficient food consumption in the world, nine are in Africa.
|Country||% Population Affected by Hunger||Population (millions)||Region|
|Burkina Faso 🇧🇫||61%||19.8||Africa|
|South Sudan 🇸🇸||60%||11.0||Africa|
|Sierra Leone 🇸🇱||55%||8.2||Africa|
|Syria 🇸🇾||55%||18.0||Middle East|
|Yemen 🇾🇪||44%||30.0||Middle East|
Approximately 30 million people in Africa face the effects of severe food insecurity, including malnutrition, starvation, and poverty.
Although many of the reasons for the food crisis around the globe involve conflicts or environmental challenges, one of the big contributors is food waste.
According to the United Nations, one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally. This amounts to about 1.3 billion tons of wasted food per year, worth approximately $1 trillion.
All the food produced but never eaten would be sufficient to feed two billion people. That’s more than twice the number of undernourished people across the globe. Consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa each year.
Solving Global Hunger
While many people may not be “hungry” in the sense that they are suffering physical discomfort, they may still be food insecure, lacking regular access to enough safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development.
Estimates of how much money it would take to end world hunger range from $7 billion to $265 billion per year.
But to tackle the problem, investments must be utilized in the right places. Specialists say that governments and organizations need to provide food and humanitarian relief to the most at-risk regions, increase agricultural productivity, and invest in more efficient supply chains.
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