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Demographics

Mapped: The World Divided Into 4 Regions With Equal Populations

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Mapped: The World Divided Into 4 Regions With Equal Populations

World Map: Divided Into 4 Regions With Equal Populations

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At the most basic level, a standard world map tells us almost nothing about human population.

While the borders on a map may give us an idea of political boundaries or even aspects of continental geography, in reality they have little to do with showing population density.

That said, it is possible to apply one simple alteration to the world map so that we can make it more interesting from a population perspective – and it turns out that doing so can help us gain insight on where regional population density is the greatest.

Splitting Up the Map

Today’s map comes from Reddit user /u/OrneryThroat and it breaks up the world by grouping countries into four equally populated regions.

While both simple and crude, this mechanism does have some profound results:

RegionPopulation
North America, South America, and West/Central Africa1.9 billion
Europe, East Africa, Middle East, and Northern Asia1.9 billion
South Asia1.9 billion
Most of Southeast Asia, China, and Oceania1.9 billion

More specifically, there is one area that stands out from a visual standpoint, and it resides clearly in the southern portion of Asia.

Home to 1.34 billion people, it’s well-known that India already holds roughly 20% of the global population – but add Pakistan (195 million) and Bangladesh (165 million) into the mix, and you’re already closing in on one quarter of the global total.

Meanwhile, to get to a similar number, you’d need to add the entire populations of North America, South America, Europe, and Oceania together to even come close.

Shown Another Way

While splitting it into four equal portions is one way to transform the world map, here is another geometric route to conveying a similar idea about the world’s population density:

Circle population

On a previous Chart of the Week, we showed that 22 of the world’s 37 megacities are located in the small circle above, putting into perspective the region’s population density in a similar but different way.

These simple transformations of the world map are not only memorable, but they also give our brain an easy heuristic to better understand the planet we live on.

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Chart of the Week

Visualizing 200 Years of Systems of Government

At the start of the 19th century, less than 1% of humanity lived under democratic rule. See how systems of government have changed over the last 200 years.

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Visualizing 200 Years of Systems of Government

Centuries ago, most of our ancestors were living under a different political paradigm.

Although democracy was starting to show signs of growth in some parts of the world, it was more of an idea, rather than an established or accepted system of government.

Even at the start of the 19th century, for example, it’s estimated that the vast majority of the global population โ€” roughly 84% of all people โ€” still lived under in autocratic regimes or colonies that lacked the authority to self-govern their own affairs.

The Evolution of Rule

Today’s set of charts look at global governance, and how it’s evolved over the last two centuries of human history.

Leveraging data from the widely-used Polity IV data set on political regimes, as well as the work done by economist Max Roser through Our World in Data, we’ve plotted an empirical view of how people are governed.

Specifically, our charts break down the global population by how they are governed (in absolute terms), as well as by the relative share of population living under those same systems of government (percentage terms).

Classifying Systems of Government

The Polity IV data series defines a state’s level of democracy by ranking it on several metrics, such as competitive and open elections, political participation, and checks on authority.

Polity scores are on a -10 to +10 scale, where the lower end (-10 to -6) corresponds with autocracies and the upper end (+6 to +10) corresponds to democracies. Below are five types of government that can be derived from the scale, and that are shown in the visualization.

  1. Colony
    A territory under the political control of another country, and/or occupied by settlers from that country.
    Examples: ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Gibraltar, ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡บ Guam, ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ซ French Polynesia
  2. Autocracy
    A single person (the autocrat) possesses supreme and absolute power.
    Examples: ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ China, ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Saudi Arabia, ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ต North Korea
  3. Closed Anocracy
    An anocracy is loosely defined as a regime that mixes democratic and autocratic features. In a closed anocracy, political competitors are drawn only from an elite and well-connected pool.
    Examples: ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ญ Thailand, ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Morocco, ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Singapore
  4. Open Anocracy
    Similar to a closed anocracy, an open anocracy draws political competitors from beyond elite groups.
    Examples: ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia, ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡พ Malaysia, ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฉ Bangladesh
  5. Democracy
    Citizens exercise power by voting for their leaders in elections.
    Examples: ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States, ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany, ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ India

A Long-Term Trend in Question

In the early 19th century, less than 1% of the global population could be found in democracies.

In more recent decades, however, the dominoes have fallen โ โ€” and today, it’s estimated that 56% of the world population lives in societies that can be considered democratic, at least according to the Polity IV data series highlighted above.

While there are questions regarding a recent decline in freedom around the world, it’s worth considering that democratic governance is still a relatively new tradition within a much broader historical context.

Will the long-term trend of democracy prevail, or are the more recent indications of populism a sign of reversion?

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Demographics

Mapped: The Dramatic Global Rise of Urbanization (1950โ€“2020)

Few global trends have matched the profound impact of urbanization. Todayโ€™s map looks back at 70 years of movement in over 1,800 cities.

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The Dramatic Global Rise of Urbanization (1950โ€“2020)

In the 21st century, few trends have matched the economic, environmental, and societal impact of rapid urbanization.

A steady stream of human migration out of the countryside, and into swelling metropolitan centers, has shaken up the worldโ€™s power dynamic in just decades.

Today’s eye-catching map via Cristina Poiata from Z Creative Labs looks at 70 years of movement and urban population growth in over 1,800 cities worldwide. Where is the action?

Out of the Farms and Into the Cities

The United Nations cites two intertwined reasons for urbanization: an overall population increase thatโ€™s unevenly distributed by region, and an upward trend in people flocking to cities.

Since 1950, the worldโ€™s urban population has risen almost six-fold, from 751 million to 4.2 billion in 2018. In North America alone, significant urban growth can be observed in the video for Mexico and the East Coast of the United States as this shift takes place.

Global Urban Population vs. Rural

Over the next few decades, the rural population is expected to plateau and eventually decline, while urban growth will continue to shoot up to six billion people and beyond.

The Biggest Urban Hot-Spots

Urban growth is going to happen all across the board.

Rapidly rising populations in megacities and major cities will be significant contributors, but it’s also worth noting that the number of regional to mid-sized cities (500k to 5 million inhabitants) will swell drastically by 2030, becoming more influential economic hubs in the process.

global cities by size 1990 to 2030

Interestingly, it’s mainly cities across Asia and Africa โ€” some of which Westerners are largely unfamiliar with โ€” that may soon wield enormous influence on the global stage.

It’s expected that over a third of the projected urban growth between now and 2050 will occur in just three countries: India, China, and Nigeria. By 2050, it is projected that India could add 416 million urban dwellers, China 255 million, and Nigeria 189 million.

Urbanization and its Complications

Rapid urbanization isn’t only linked to an inevitable rise in city populations.

Some megacities are actually experiencing population contractions, in part due to the effects of low fertility rates in Asia and Europe. For example, while the Greater Tokyo area contains almost 38 million people today, itโ€™s expected to shrink starting in 2020.

As rapid urbanization continues to shape the global economy, finding ways to provide the right infrastructure and services in cities will be a crucial problem to solve for communities and organizations around the world. How we deal with these issues โ€” or how we don’t โ€” will set the stage for the next act in the modern economic era.

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