Map: The World’s Network of Submarine Cables
View the above visualization at full resolution for the best experience.
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: Fossil Fuel Production by Country
These four animated cartograms show the nations leading the world in fossil fuel production, in terms of oil, gas, coal, and total hydrocarbons.
Fossil fuels exist as a double-edged sword for most countries.
On one hand, they still make up a dominant piece of the current energy mix, and oil is still seen as a crucial resource for achieving geopolitical significance. It’s also no secret that fossil fuels are a driver for many economies around the world.
But with governments and corporations counting carbon emissions and mounting concerns about climate change, reliance on these same fuels will not last forever. As attitudes and policies evolve, they will continue to see a reduced role going forward.
Visualizing Fossil Fuels by Country
So, which countries are pumping out the most hydrocarbons?
Today’s cartograms come from 911Metallurgist, and the animated maps resize each country based on their share of global fossil fuel production.
Below, you’ll see four cartograms that cover oil, gas, coal, and total fossil fuel production.
Crude Oil Production
The United States leads this category, producing about 18% of the world’s total oil:
Although the U.S. is the number one producer globally, it should be noted that the country doesn’t have the same quantity of oil reserves as other leading nations.
Weirdly, Venezuela has the exact opposite problem. The country has the most oil reserves in the world, but currently only sits as its 12th biggest producer.
Natural Gas Production
In terms of gas, the U.S. leads again with a 20% share of global production. Russia is also a gas powerhouse, with a 17.3% share.
After the U.S. and Russia, it’s a fairly steep dropoff in terms of natural gas production. Countries like Iran, Canada, Qatar, and China are the next most significant players, but they each only produce 4-6% of the global total.
Coal use may be on the decline, but China still produces a whopping 45% of the world’s coal.
China’s current relationship with coal is an interesting one.
Every year, coal has become less important in China’s energy mix – in 2011 it represented 70% of energy consumption, and by 2018 it had fell to 59%.
Despite this meaningful progress, China’s economy has grown so fast, that coal use has essentially held steady in absolute terms. Meanwhile, the country’s production of coal has actually grown slightly over the same timeframe.
Total Fossil Fuel Production
Finally, here is the sum of all three above categories, converted to metric tonnes:
The United States produces 20% of all global fossil fuels, with Russia and Iran rounding out the top three. After that comes Canada, which produces just under 5% of all fossil fuels globally.
Visualizing the World’s 100 Biggest Islands
See the world’s 100 biggest islands in a side-by-side comparison. Then, we look to see which islands have the highest population densities.
Visualizing 100 of the World’s Biggest Islands
View the full-size version of the infographic by clicking here.
When you think of an island, the first thing that might come to mind is a small, sunny beach surrounded by warm waters. But did you know that 11% of the world’s population actually calls islands their home?
Today’s data visualization is designed by mapmaker David Garcia, and it ranks the hundred largest islands found around the world by size.
Islands in the Stream
The 100 biggest islands range from the likes of expansive Greenland to independent Guadalcanal, the largest of the Solomon Islands. But look a little closer, and you’ll see just how much the top contender outshines the rest. Greenland is almost three times the size of the second-biggest island of New Guinea, and you could fit over 408 Guadalcanal islands within it.
In the visualization, the islands are also tinted, depending on the climate they come from. Blue islands are from the polar regions, turquoise islands lie in the temperate zones, and green islands represent the lush tropics. Which of these regions hosts the most islands?
|Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland)||Denmark||Europe|
|New Guinea||Papua New Guinea, Indonesia||Oceania|
|Pulau Borneo (Kalimantan)||Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei||Asia|
|Qikiqtaaluk (Baffin Island, Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Kitlineq (Victoria Island)||Canada||North America|
|Great Britain||United Kingdom||Europe|
|Ellesmere (Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Te Waipounamu (South Island)||New Zealand||Oceania|
|Te Ika-a-maui (North Island)||New Zealand||Oceania|
|Ireland||Ireland, United Kingdom||Europe|
|Hispaniola||Dominican Republic, Haiti||North America|
|Banks Island||Canada||North America|
|Sri Lanka||Sri Lanka||Asia|
|Tatlurutit (Devon Island, Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego||Panama||South America|
|Shugliaq (Southampton)||Canada||North America|
|Axel Heiberg (Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|New Britain||Papua New Guinea||Oceania|
|Prince of Wales (Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Kuganajuup Qikiqtanga (Somerset, Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Bathurst (Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Prince Patrick||Canada||North America|
|King William (Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Yos Sudarso||Papua New Guinea||Oceania|
|Ellef Ringnes (Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Bylot (Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Hawai'I (Big Island)||United States||North America|
|Cape Breton||Canada||North America|
|Prince Charles||Canada||North America|
|Kodiak (Alaska)||United States||North America|
|Cyprus||Cyprus, United Kingdom||Europe|
|Bougainville||Papua New Guinea||Oceania|
|Puerto Rico||United States||North America|
|Cornwallis (Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Latangai (New Ireland)||Papua New Guinea||Oceania|
|Prince of Wales (Alaska)||United States||North America|
|Desolation (Kerguelen)||Antarctic Lands, France||Antarctic|
|Isla Soledad/ East Falkland||Argentina||South America|
|Novaya Sibir (New Siberian)||Russia||Eurasia|
|Coats (Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Prince Edward||Canada||North America|
|Chichagof (Alaska)||United States||North America|
It’s the Island Life for Many
North America dominates with 32 islands out of the top 100, but there’s a catch — twelve of them are uninhabitable, thanks to the frigid Arctic temperatures.
Throw the number of people into the mix and the regional overview gets even more interesting. Compared to the rest of the world, Asian islands are teeming with life.
- 28 Asian islands
Total population: 510.4 million
- 14 European islands
Total population: 83.8 million
- 32 North American islands
Total population: 40.7 million
- 12 Oceania islands
Total population: 18.3 million
Taking things a step further, we’ve remixed the visualization based on population density.
Click below to view the full-size version.
The most populated island in the world, Java is filled to the brim with 141 million people — that’s over a thousand people per square kilometer. This is in part thanks to the capital city Jakarta being located on the island, but experts warn those days may be short lived. By 2050, scientific models predict that 95% of the city may be underwater, and that Indonesia must scramble to find a new capital.
To finish, here is the 20 most dense islands on the list, in terms of population density.
|Rank by Density||Island||Countries||Population||Area (km²)||People per km²|
|#9||Puerto Rico||United States||3,195,000||9,104||350.9|
|#11||Sri Lanka||Sri Lanka||21,440,000||65,610||326.8|
|#12||Great Britain||United Kingdom||66,040,000||209,331||315.5|
|#13||Hispaniola||Dominican Republic, Haiti||21,396,000||76,192||280.8|
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