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Our Top Infographics of 2018



Visual Capitalist

This year, we published more than 300 posts on Visual Capitalist, getting well over 20 million views along the way.

While all of these posts are driven by powerful visuals and data-driven content, we can only select 18 of them on our hand-picked, annual list of our best work. Below, you’ll find our Top Infographics of 2018 List, which contains some of our most popular infographics, as well as a curation of staff favorites for the year.

If you like what you see on the following list, make sure to subscribe to our mailing list or connect via Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to get our free content daily.

Important Notes:

Below are the top posts of 2018. But first, a few quick notes:

  • Images below are small preview images for each large infographic and article
  • To view any post in full, click the image or link in the text. All links open in a new tab.
  • At the end, we’ll link to some honorable mentions, as well as the year-end lists for 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Wishing you the best in the new year!
– The Visual Capitalist Team

18. The Social Media Universe

The Social Media Universe

This infographic is from another world, showing the vast scope of the social media universe. In particular, the size of the “Zuckerberg Cluster” stands out, as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger dominate the list of apps with more than a billion monthly active users.

17. The World’s Biggest Real Estate Bubbles in 2018

The World

Ever wanted to know which key real estate markets are the closest to popping, and which are potentially undervalued?

These maps and charts show the six major cities currently in “bubble risk” territory, and how they compare to the markets of other important global cities.

16. The Raw Materials that Fuel the Green Revolution

The Raw Materials Powering the Green Revolution

To get off fossil fuels, we’ll need other finite resources such as rare metals and minerals. We show the resources that will power the green revolution in this giant infographic.

15. The Business Value of the Blockchain

The Business Value of the Blockchain

While 2018 has been a year to forget for cryptocurrencies, the blockchain is here to stay and will impact a wide variety of industries. This graphic uses data from McKinsey to show the potential business value of the technology.

14. Visualizing 40 Years of Music Industry Sales

Visualizing 40 Years of Music Industry Sales
This chart that shows the composition of music industry sales was an unexpected blockbuster, but it seems to have captured the hearts and minds of music lovers from around the world.

13. The Relationship Between Money and Happiness

The Relationship Between Money and Happiness

This was one of our more controversial charts of 2018, partially because of an experimental design decision we made.

Instead of aligning the x and y axes in the traditional way, we oriented the chart so that the trend line was horizontal – making it so countries that were “happier” with what they had (GDP per capita) appeared above the line, while countries that were “less satisfied” appeared below.

12. Elon Musk’s Vision for the Future of Tesla

Visualizing the Future Vision of Tesla

This infographic is the conclusion of our Rise of Tesla Series, showing Elon Musk’s vision for the company. Don’t forget to view Part 1 and Part 2 of the series as well.

11. Mapped: The World’s Largest Megacities by 2100

Economic growth is anchored in cities – and the world’s urban landscape will shift dramatically as we move towards the end of the 21st century. This powerful animation shows where the world’s biggest megacities will be in 2100.

10. How Different Generations Would Invest $10k

How Different Generations Would Invest k

Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials do not think the same way about money. This is partly because they are at different points in their adult lives, but it also has to do with differing attitudes towards wealth and risk.

This nifty visualization charts how these generations would each invest $10,000, and it helps reveal what makes each generation unique.

9. Seven Facts to Free You From Your Fear of Market Crashes

Seven Facts to Free You From Your Fear of Market Crashes

Even when there is extreme volatility occurring in the stock market, this infographic may be the cure to make you a more rational investor. It goes through the math of corrections and bear markets in a simple and straightforward way that can calm the nerves of experts and beginners alike.

8. A World of Languages

A World of Languages

There are 4.1 billion people that speak the 23 most common native tongues – and this widely popular infographic breaks down where they are spoken by country.

7. The Extraordinary Power of Compound Interest

The Extraordinary Power of Compound Interest

According to Albert Einstein, compound interest is the “most powerful force in the universe”.

However, understanding its power is not intuitive to many. That’s why we created this explainer infographic on compound interest as a part of our Wealth 101 channel, which is geared to younger generations.

6. The Multi-Billion Dollar Personal Data Ecosystem

The Multi-Billion Dollar Personal Data Ecosystem

Personal data was a popular and recurring theme throughout the 2018 news cycle.

But how does this ecosystem actually work, and what are the components of personal data in the digital age? This infographic aims to break it all down in an easy and simple way.

5. The Longest Bull Markets of the Modern Era

 Trillion of World Debt

This chart we published in June became very relevant as markets struggled in late-2018.

It documents the six longest bull markets since World War II, and compares them using several factors such as length, total return, and average annual return. It also shows key events that occurred in each bull market, giving great perspective on how the stock market works over time.

4. The Warren Buffett Empire

The Warren Buffett Empire

Most people know Berkshire Hathaway as the massive conglomerate that serves as the investment vehicle for Warren Buffett’s $83 billion fortune. However, far fewer people know what this giant does, and how it actually makes its money!

This massive infographic attempts to put it all in perspective.

3. This World Map was Drawn Based on Country Populations

This Fascinating World Map was Drawn Based on Country Populations

There are many routes to creating an insightful data visualization, but one tried-and-true one is to take something familiar (like a map) and to redraw it based on another data set. In this case, this world map is redrawn based on countries’ populations to give us a whole new way to think about human geography.

2. The $80 Trillion World Economy in One Chart

The  Trillion World Economy in One Chart

This memorable chart that breaks down global GDP was one of our most shared posts of the year, with 37,000 social shares and 750,000 views.

1. The Forces Shaping the Future of the Global Economy

The 8 Major Forces Shaping the Future of the Global Economy

Powerful, data-driven visuals can really help to tell a story that words alone cannot.

This iconic post leans on the ideas and graphics from our new book Visualizing Change, and it does a great job summarizing the forces that we see shaping our economic future.

Honorable mentions:

Animation: The World’s 10 Largest Economies by GDP (1960-Today)
This enthralling animation shows the rise and fall of economies over many decades.

The 6 Forces Transforming the Future of Healthcare
Healthcare is a massive industry – and it’s undergoing tremendous change.

24 Cognitive Biases That Are Warping Your Perception of Reality
Think you see things objectively? Check out this list of common cognitive biases that mess with even the best of us.

The 6,000 Year History of Medical Cannabis on One Map
This giant map plots the entire history of medical cannabis through many millennia.

An Illustrated Subway Map of Human Anatomy
Ever wanted to visualize the complexity of the human body? This neat map does the trick.

And lastly, don’t forget to check out our roundups from previous years!

The Top 17 Infographics of 2017
The Top 16 Infographics of 2016
The Top 15 Infographics of 2015
The Top 14 Infographics of 2014

And if you haven’t subscribed to our free mailing list or social feeds, make sure you do so below.

Good luck in 2019!

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Visual Communication

Our Top 22 Visualizations of 2022

In this ninth edition of our yearly round-up, we highlight visualizations that broke new ground in design and data-driven reporting.



The world was a complex and volatile place in 2022.

In our signature style⁠—combining art, data, and storytelling⁠—we helped millions of people make sense of unfolding events, from geopolitical flare-ups to stock market turmoil. Our growing team ranked, mapped, and visualized hundreds of new infographics on a multitude of topics.

This year we continued to refine classic concepts such as All the World’s Money, Global Happiness, World’s Richest People, and Prediction Consensus.

Speaking of predictions, we’re creating the ultimate cheatsheet for 2023.
See what hundreds of experts are predicting for 2023 with our Global Forecast Series.

In this ninth edition of our yearly round-up, we’ve highlighted a small selection of our work, as well as pieces made by talented members of our Creator Program. The following visualizations were selected because they reached millions of people, sparked lively conversations, or pushed boundaries in design and data-driven reporting.

Now, let’s dive in to the top 22 visualizations of 2022.

Editor’s note: Click on any preview below to see the full-sized version of a visualization.


The $100 Trillion Global Economy in One Chart

$100 Trillion World Economy preview image

IMF projections from earlier this year suggested that we would hit a new milestone for global economic output: $104 trillion. This voronoi diagram carves up the global economy by country.

One more insight from this graphic. While China’s GDP growth has slowed in recent years, projections still indicate that the country will overtake the U.S. by 2030, dethroning the world’s economic leader.


Visualizing Earth’s Seasons

Earth's Seasons preview image

The Earth’s changing seasons radically affect the world in different ways. Some regions experience four distinct seasons, while others experience only two or as many as six.

Many people think the seasons are dictated by Earth’s proximity to the Sun, but this isn’t the case. It’s the Earth’s tilt, not its closeness to the Sun, that influences our seasons and causes massive changes in weather and ecology.

This animated map by Eleanor Lutz visualizes Earth’s seasons, showing how the temperature changes impact ice levels in the Arctic, as well as the growth and shifting of vegetation. It also highlights the cloud cover and sunlight each hemisphere receives throughout the year, with each frame in the animation representing a month of time.


Map Explainer: Key Facts About Ukraine

Ukraine map explainer preview image

As columns of Russian tanks began snaking their way toward Kyiv in early 2022, the world’s eyes became fixated on Ukraine. While outlets like FT and NYT provided real-time invasion updates, we focused on geography, infrastructure, and points of interest using our Map Explainer format.


Visualizing the World’s Largest Oil Producers

oil production by country preview image

The conflict in Ukraine had broader implications on the global economy, and the world hit its first energy crisis of the 21st century. This infographic looks at where oil is actually produced around the world.

The OPEC countries are the largest oil producers collectively, with Saudi Arabia alone making up one-third of OPEC production.


10 Years of Tinder

10 Years of Tinder Preview Image

With its user-friendly interface and popular features like “swipe right” to indicate interest, Tinder has transformed the way people meet and date. When the dating app reached its 10th birthday this year, we leaned into a wacky design that reflects the twists and turns the company has taken on its journey from hackathon project to billion dollar business.


The Salary You Need to Buy a Home in 50 U.S. Cities

salary to buy a home preview image

Where one lives has big implications on how realistic home ownership may seem. This graphic offers a broad view of affordability, mapping out the annual salary needed for home ownership in 50 different U.S. cities.

San Jose came out on top as the most expensive city, while Oklahoma City and Cleveland ranked as some of the most affordable.


The Relationship Between Wealth and Happiness, by Country

wealth and happiness preview image

Throughout history, the pursuit of happiness has been a preoccupation of humankind. Of course, we humans are not just content with measuring our own happiness, but also our happiness in relation to the people around us—and even other people around the world.

We crunched the numbers and visualized the data to see if money really does buy happiness.


Animation: The World’s Biggest Wind Turbines

worlds biggest wind turbines preview image

Over the past 20 years, wind turbines have grown in size, and are now generating much more energy per unit. Today, the tallest turbines can reach over 200 meters (650 ft) in height and cost more than $12 million to manufacture and install.

This animated infographic, produced by our Elements team, shows them side-by-side with iconic landmarks to help show the scale of modern wind energy infrastructure.


33 Problems With Media in One Chart

Problems with media preview image

One of the hallmarks of democratic society is a healthy, free-flowing media ecosystem. Unfortunately, the modern news media ecosystem is under fire from a number of angles, from a shrinking pool of ad revenue to declining trust from readers.

Many of the problems identified in the infographic are easy to understand once they’re identified. However, in some cases, there is an interplay between these issues that is worth digging into. One thing is for certain, the topic generated a lively discussion on how to fix the problems that plague mainstream media.


Visualizing S&P 500 Performance in 2022, by Sector

stock market in 2022 preview image

Tracking indices over the course of a year reveals a lot about market trends and sentiment. The S&P 500’s performance over the course of 2022 is a great example.

Throughout the year, inflation rates have remained high and interest rates have likewise been climbing around the world. Accompanied by the looming threat of a recession, some sectors have been hit harder than others.

This animation from Jan Varsava shows U.S. dividend-adjusted stock performance for each company in the S&P 500 index in 2022, from the start of the year through the end of September.


Animated Map: Where to Find Water on Mars

Water on Mars map preview image

The European Space Agency has long been looking for water on Mars, and this year it looks like they’ve found it…in rocks!

Special rocks called hydrous minerals are believed to contain remnants of a large but now lost Martian ocean. The ESA released new data confirming the geographical locations of these rocks, suggesting places where water may still be present deep beneath the red planet’s surface.


All the World’s Military Personnel

military personnel preview image

With conflicts in Ukraine, Iran, and other places making war and violence unfortunately prevalent in 2022, we assessed the military capabilities of countries worldwide.

This visual breaks down all the world’s active duty and reserve soldiers with each soldier icon representing 10,000 soldiers. Although China has the largest active military, Vietnam took the top spot as the country with the biggest military worldwide when including reserves and paramilitary numbers into the mix.


The Yuxi Circle: The World’s Most Densely Populated Area

yuxi circle preview image

If you wanted to capture over 55% of the global population inside a circle with a 4,000 km (2,500 mi) radius, which city would you place at its epicenter?

Mapmaker Alasdair Rae went digging through population data, tracing circles around 1,500 cities worldwide to find out how many people lived within a 4,000 km radius. Out of all possible options, he discovered that the The Yuxi Circle, based on a city in the Yunnan province of China, was the world’s most densely populated area.


A Lifetime’s Consumption of Fossil Fuels, Visualized

lifetime of fossil fuels preview image

In this graphic, we visualized exactly how many fossil fuels are used in an average American’s 80-year lifetime, putting the coal, gas, and petroleum into scaled cubes and comparing them to the size of a human being.

The end result? It turns out that we use a lot of fossil fuels as individuals—over 119 tonnes of coal, 236 tonnes of petroleum products, and 2,007 cubic meters of compressed natural gas.


Every Song With Over 1 Billion Spotify Streams

spotify billions club preview image

Spotify is the world’s most popular audio streaming service with over 450 million users across 183 markets. With that kind of scale, songs can rack up some serious streaming numbers.

In this ambitious data visualization, we looked at every song with more than one billion streams on the platform, and served the data up by decade and artist.


A Decade of Elon Musk’s Tweets, Visualized

elon musk tweets preview image

Even before Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, the entrepreneur was already a power user of the platform, using it to share news about his companies, chat with users about technology, and, of course, post dank memes.

To better understand Musk’s Twitter usage over the years, we decided to scrape his entire tweet history and visualize the results. The result is a unique radial timeline design that highlights key topics as well as the overall volume of tweets. Our article also features the highlights (and lowlights) of Musk’s growing body of microblogging work.


Nature Timespiral: The Evolution of Earth from the Big Bang

nature timespiral preview image

Not much is known about what came before the Big Bang, but we do know that it launched a sequence of events that gave rise to the universal laws of physics and the chemical elements that make up matter.

How the Earth came about, and life subsequently followed, is a wondrous story of time and change. Over the course of about 14 billion years, history has seen the creation of the universe, the expansion of the cosmos, and the spawning of galaxies, stars, planets, and eventually, life.

In this amazingly detailed visualization called the Nature Timespiral, Pablo Carlos Buddassi illustrates this journey, depicting the various eras that the Earth has gone through since the inception of the universe itself.


All the Metals We Mined in 2021: Visualized

All the metals preview image

“If you can’t grow it, you have to mine it” is a famous saying that encapsulates the importance of minerals and metals in the modern world. The sheer volume of raw materials and metals that factor into our everyday life often goes overlooked.

This visualization takes these unsung heroes and puts them center stage. Of the 2.8 billion tonnes of metals mined in 2021, iron ore, which is used to make steel, made up 93%. Over on the other end, rare metals like rhenium are tiny by comparison.


Countries Grouped by Their Largest Trading Partner (1960-2020)

trading partners preview image

Which countries are the central nodes of the global trade network? The answer to this question has changed over time, with China becoming the latest nation to dominate global trade networks.

This series of “netgraphs”, by Anders Sundell, connects countries to their primary trading partner, using data that includes both imports and exports. It’s no secret that the U.S. has seen its trade dominance slip in recent decades, but seeing it visualized in this unique way really drives the point home.


The Top 10 Largest Nuclear Explosions, Visualized

nuclear explosions preview image

Threats of a nuclear war outbreak have been populating headlines this year ever since the beginning of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. We examined the top 10 largest nuclear explosions in history, charting their explosive yields, their height, and the size of their destructive radii into one graphic.

Though humans haven’t seen devastation from the likes of nuclear weaponry since Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, the explosives that came after leave much to the imagination in the face of developing world events.


FTX’s Leaked Balance Sheet

ftx balance sheet preview image

The high-profile collapse of crypto exchange FTX will stand as one of the biggest—and most lurid—financial stories of the year.

When FTX’s leaked balance sheet was published by the Financial Times, the large numbers it contained were tough to truly appreciate. We saw an opportunity to visualize the data to better understand the size of the company’s hole, and the breakdown between liquid and illiquid assets.

Graphic design aside, the results were not pretty.


The World’s Population at 8 Billion

world population 8 billion preview image

In mid-November of this year, the eight billionth human being entered the world, ushering in a new milestone for humanity. In this series of voronoi diagrams, we look at the current distribution of humanity, by country and by region.

In just 48 years, the world population has doubled in size, jumping from four to eight billion. Our team also dug deep into this topic in a full report and webinar for VC+ members.

According to projections, 2023 will bring another major population milestone. The world will soon have a new largest country, as India’s population will surpass China’s.

Like what you see in this roundup of the top visualizations of 2023? Join over 365,000 people on our free email list and get a new visualization in your mailbox every day.

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