Map: The World’s Network of Submarine Cables
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Submarine cables are decidedly uncool. But while they lack the flashiness of satellites, it’s actually the world’s vast network of fiber optic cables that does most of the heavy lifting in keeping our information flowing from place to place.
The map above, by Ben Pollock, is a comprehensive look at the world’s cable network, as well as some of the impressive information on bandwidth and maintenance jurisdictions.
The History of Submarine Cables
The first transcontinental cable – laid in 1858 – ran from Ireland to Newfoundland, and made telegraph communication possible between England and Canada.
Though communication was expensive and limited to only a few words per hour at best, the speed of communication was unparalleled at the time.
“Instant” communication was a huge commercial hit, and it prompted a cable laying boom. By the year 1900, there were already over 130,000 miles (200,000 km) of cable running along the ocean floor!
Beyond the Telegram
The first transatlantic telephone cables went into service in 1956, and 32 years later, the first fiber optic cable connected Europe and America.
Fiber optic technology made transmitting massive quantities of information fast and cost-effective. The level of speed has only increased with time – and now cables can transmit 160 terabits per second.
(One common misconception is that most of our information is transmitted through satellites, but fiber optic cables actually form the backbone of the internet, transmitting about 99% of all data.)
Today, there are over 420 submarine cables in service, stretching over 700,000 miles (1.1 million km) around the world. The network is clustered around information economy hotspots like Singapore and New York, but cables connect to just about anywhere.
Remote Pacific islands, and even obscure ocean towns in the Arctic Circle have such connections.
Who’s Footing the Bill?
Traditionally, private companies or consortiums formed by telecom carriers owned cables, but that model is changing. Content providers such as Google and Microsoft are increasingly major investors in new cable. Cloud computing is the big demand driver of this new private cable boom.
As more millions more people around the world adopt cloud computing, we’ll be certain to see even more cables criss-crossing the world’s oceans in the near future.
Mapped: The World’s Biggest Oil Discoveries Since 1868
Since 1868, there had been 1,232 oil discoveries over 500 million barrels of oil. This map plots these discoveries to reveal global energy hot spots.
Mapped: The World’s Biggest Oil Discoveries Since 1868
Oil and gas discoveries excite markets and nations with the prospect of profits, tax revenues, and jobs. However, geological processes did not distribute them equally throughout the Earth’s crust and their mere presence does not guarantee a windfall for whatever nation under which they lie.
Entire economies and nations have been built on the discovery and exploitation of oil and gas, while some nations have misused this wealth─or projected growth just never materialized.
The 20 Biggest Oil Discoveries
This map includes 1,232 discoveries of recoverable reserves over 500 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) From 1868 to 2010.
The discoveries cluster in certain parts of the world, covering 46 countries, and are of significant magnitude for each country’s economy. The average discovery is worth 1.4% of a country’s GDP today, based on the cash value from their production or net present value (NPV).
Of the total 1,232 discoveries, these are the 20 largest oil and gas fields:
|Field||Onshore/Offshore||Location||Discovery||Production start||Recoverable oil, past and future (billion barrels)|
|Ghawar Field||Onshore||Saudi Arabia||1948||1951||88-104|
|Mesopotamian Foredeep Basin||Onshore||Kuwait||n/a||n/a||66-72|
|Bolivar Coastal Field||Onshore||Venezuela||1917||1922||30-32|
|Safaniya Field||Offshore||Kuwait/Saudi Arabia||1951||1957||30|
|Upper Zakum Field||Offshore||Abu Dhabi, UAE||1963||1967||21|
|Romashkino Field||Onshore||Russia Volga-Ural||1948||1949||16-17|
|Shaybah Field||Onshore||Saudi Arabia||1998||1998||15|
|West Qurna Field||Onshore||Iraq||1973||2012||15-21|
Russia, West Siberia
The location of these deposits reveals a certain pattern to geopolitical flashpoints and their importance to the global economy.
While these discoveries have brought immense advantages in the form of cheap fuel and massive revenues, they have also altered and challenged how nations govern their natural wealth.
The Future of Resource Wealth: A Curse or a Blessing?
A ‘presource curse’ could follow in the wake of the discovery, whereby predictions of projected growth and feelings of euphoria turn into disappointment.
An oil discovery can impose detrimental consequences on an economy long before a single barrel leaves the ground. Ideally, a discovery should increase the economic output of a country that claims the oil. However, after major discoveries, the projected growth sometimes does not always materialize as predicted.
Getting from discovery to sustained prosperity depends on a number of steps. Countries must secure investment to develop a project to production, and government policy must respond by preparing the economy for an inflow of investment and foreign currency. However, this is a challenging prospect, as the appetite for these massive projects appears to be waning.
In a world working towards reducing its dependence on fossil fuels, what will happen to countries that depend on oil wealth when demand begins to dwindle?
Countries can no longer assume their oil and gas resources will translate into reliable wealth — instead, it is how you manage what you have now that counts.
Mapped: Top Countries by Tourist Spending
How much do your vacations contribute to your destination of choice? This visualization shows the countries that receive the most tourist spending.
Mapped: Top Countries by Tourist Spending
Many people spend their days looking forward to their next getaway. But do you know exactly how much these vacation plans contribute economically to your chosen destination?
Today’s visualization from HowMuch.net highlights the countries in which tourists spend the most money. Locations have been resized based on spending amounts, which come from the latest data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Oh, The Places Tourists Will Go
Across the different regions, Europe’s combined tourist spending dominates at $570 billion. Easy access to closely-located countries, both via rail networks and a shared currency, may be a reason why almost 710 million visitors toured the region in 2018.
Asia-Pacific, which includes Australia and numerous smaller islands, saw the greatest growth in tourism expenditures. Total spending reached $435 billion in 2018—a 7% year-over-year increase, from 348 million visitors. Not surprisingly, some areas such as Macao (SAR) tend to rely heavily on tourists as a primary economic driver.
Here’s how other continental regions fared, in terms of tourist spending and visitors:
Total expenditures: $333 billion
Total visitors: 216 million
Expenses per visitor: $1,542
- Middle East
Total expenditures: $73 billion
Total visitors: 60 million
Expenses per visitor: $1,216
Total expenditures: $38 billion
Total visitors: 67 million
Expenses per visitor: $567
Of course, these numbers only paint a rudimentary picture of global tourism, as they vary greatly even within these regions. Let’s look closer at the individual country data for 2018, compared to previous years.
The Top Tourist Hotspots, By Country
It seems that many tourists are gravitating towards the same destinations, as evidenced by both the number of arrivals and overall expenditures for 2017 and 2018 alike.
|Country||2018 Spending||2018 Arrivals||Country||2017 Spending||2017 Arrivals|
|1. U.S. 🇺🇸||$214.5B||79.6M||1. U.S. 🇺🇸||$210.7B||74.8M|
|2. Spain 🇪🇸||$73.8B||82.8M||2. Spain 🇪🇸||$68B||81.8M|
|2. France 🇫🇷||$67.4B||89.4M||3. France 🇫🇷||$60.7B||86.9M|
|4. Thailand 🇹🇭||$63B||38.3M||4. Thailand 🇹🇭||$57.5B||35.4M|
|5. UK 🇬🇧||$51.9B||36.3M||5. UK 🇬🇧||51.2B||37.7M|
|6. Italy 🇮🇹||$49.3B||62.1M||6. Italy 🇮🇹||$44.2B||58.3M|
|7. Australia 🇦🇺||$45B||9.2M||7. Australia 🇦🇺||$41.7B||8.8M|
|8. Germany 🇩🇪||$43B||38.9M||8. Germany 🇩🇪||$39.8B||37.5M|
|9. Japan 🇯🇵||$41.1B||31.2M||9. Macao (SAR) 🇲🇴||$35.6B||17M|
|10. China 🇨🇳||$40.4B||62.9M||10. Japan 🇯🇵||$34.1B||28.6M|
Source: World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Note that data is for international tourism only and does not include domestic tourism.
The top contenders have remained fairly consistent, as each country brings something unique to the table—from natural wonders to historic and man-made structures.
Where Highest-Spending Tourists Come From
The nationality of tourists also seems to be a factor in these total expenditures. Chinese tourists spent $277 billion internationally in 2018, likely thanks to the increasing consumption of an emerging, affluent middle class.
Interestingly, this amount is almost twice the combined $144 billion that American tourists spent overseas in the same year.
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