This Fascinating World Map was Drawn Based on Country Populations
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This World Map was Drawn Based on Country Populations
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It’s likely you’re very familiar with the standard world map.
It’s shown practically everywhere – you’ll see it online, on the news, in books, and even as a part of company logos. In fact, the world map is so ubiquitous that we don’t even really think about it much at all, really.
The economist Max Roser from Our World in Data argues that this familiarity with the world map may lead to complacency in understanding global matters. After all, the typical world map shows us the basic geography of countries and continents, but it doesn’t give any indication of where people actually live!
Introducing: The Cartogram
To get around the challenges of relying on the standard world map, Roser instead has made a population cartogram based on 2018 population figures.
What’s a population cartogram?
A cartogram is a visualization in which statistical information is shown in diagrammatic form. In this case, it’s a population cartogram, where each square in the map represents 500,000 people in a country’s population.
In total there are 15,266 squares, representing all 7.633 billion people on the planet.
Countries like Canada or Russia – which have giant land masses but small relative populations – appear much smaller on this kind of map. Meanwhile, a country like Bangladesh grows much bigger, because it has a large population living within a smaller area.
The Regional View
Let’s zoom in on some continental regions to get a sense of what we can learn from a population cartogram done in this fashion.
Asia and Oceania
Where did Australia go? The continent is completely dwarfed by neighboring Indonesia and the Philippines.
Not surprisingly, India and China are the biggest countries on this cartogram, especially looking oversized in comparison to countries in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, or the United Arab Emirates.
Geographically, Russia is a pretty massive country – but when resized based on population, the nation looks closer in size to many other European nations.
The Netherlands and Belgium, two countries with higher population densities than most European nations, also appear more prominent on this style of map.
On the map below, Mexico has exploded to almost 4X the size of Canada. That’s because although the Great White North is the world’s second largest country in size, it only has a fraction of the population of Mexico.
Meanwhile, it’s evident that Argentina’s population is lower than the country’s giant landmass leads on.
Finally, we’ll look at Africa, which is in the middle of a massive population boom.
Countries like Namibia, Botswana, and Chad almost disappear.
Nigeria, which is expected to have the world’s largest city by 2100 with over 88 million residents, is the largest country in Africa using this cartogram method.
Charted: The Number of Democracies Globally
How many democracies does the world have? This visual shows the change since 1945 and the top nations becoming more (and less) democratic.
Charted: The Number of Democracies Globally
The end of World War II in 1945 was a turning point for democracies around the world.
Before this critical turning point in geopolitics, democracies made up only a small number of the world’s countries, both legally and in practice. However, over the course of the next six decades, the number of democratic nations would more than quadruple.
Interestingly, studies have found that this trend has recently reversed as of the 2010s, with democracies and non-democracies now in a deadlock.
In this visualization, Staffan Landin uses data from V-DEM’s Electoral Democratic Index (EDI) to highlight the changing face of global politics over the past two decades and the nations that contributed the most to this change.
V-DEM’s EDI attempts to measure democratic development in a comprehensive way, through the contributions of 3,700 experts from countries around the world.
Instead of relying on each nation’s legally recognized system of government, the EDI analyzes the level of electoral democracy in countries on a range of indicators, including:
- Free and fair elections
- Rule of law
- Alternative sources of information and association
- Freedom of expression
Countries are assigned a score on a scale from 0 to 1, with higher scores indicating a higher level of democracy. Each is also categorized into four types of functional government, from liberal and electoral democracies to electoral and closed autocracies.
Which Countries Have Declined the Most?
The EDI found that numerous countries around the world saw declines in democracy over the past two decades. Here are the 10 countries that saw the steepest decline in EDI score since 2010:
|Country||Democracy Index (2010)||Democracy Index (2022)||Points Lost|
Central and Eastern Europe was home to three of the countries seeing the largest declines in democracy. Hungary, Poland, and Serbia lead the table, with Hungary and Serbia in particular dropping below scores of 0.5.
Some of the world’s largest countries by population also decreased significantly, including India and Brazil. Across most of the top 10, the “freedom of expression” indicator was hit particularly hard, with notable increases in media censorship to be found in Afghanistan and Brazil.
Countries Becoming More Democratic
Here are the 10 countries that saw the largest increase in EDI score since 2010:
|Country||Democracy Index (2010)||Democracy Index (2022)||Points Gained|
|🇬🇲 The Gambia||0.25||0.50||+25|
|🇱🇰 Sri Lanka||0.42||0.57||+15|
Armenia, Fiji, and Seychelles saw significant improvement in the autonomy of their electoral management bodies in the last 10 years. Partially as a result, both Armenia and Seychelles have seen their scores rise above 0.5.
The Gambia also saw great improvement across many election indicators, including the quality of voter registries, vote buying, and election violence. It was one of five African countries to make the top 10 most improved democracies.
With the total number of democracies and non-democracies almost tied over the past four years, it is hard to predict the political atmosphere in the future.
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