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An Illustrated Subway Map of Human Anatomy

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What comes to mind when you think about your body?

Most people might imagine an intricate network of blood vessels or the complex neural circuits of the brain. Or we might picture diagrams from the iconic medical textbook, Gray’s Anatomy.

Today’s visualization puts a unique spin on all of these ideas – interpreting human anatomy in the style of London’s transit system. Created by Jonathan Simmonds M.D., a resident physician at Tufts Medical Center, it’s a simple yet beautifully intuitive demonstration of how efficiently our bodies work.

View a high resolution version of this graphic.
Subway Map of Human Anatomy

Make sure to view the full resolution version of this intricate visualization.

From Point A to Point Z

Right away, we can see that each system is broken down into a few major colored ‘lines’. Here are a few:

  • Vermillion system (Pink line)
    This covers one of the smallest surface areas, namely the boundary around the mouth from the cupid’s bow to the bottom lip.
  • Airway system (Black line)
    This represents the sections from the nose and mouth, down the windpipe and into the lungs. The system also works with bronchial arteries and veins – the striped blue and red lines respectively.
  • Nervous system (Yellow line)
    This starts from the temporal lobe of the brain, and reaches all the way to the body’s extremities, such as the fingertips and feet.
  • Portal system (Purple line)
    Approximately 75% of blood flowing from the liver passes through portal veins, which are one of two sets of veins connected to the liver.
  • Special system (Magenta line)
    This includes organs responsible for four of the five traditional senses – sight, hearing, smell, and taste – as well the reproductive organs.

While dashed lines represent deeper structures, sections with ‘transfers’ show where different organ systems intersect. The head is also helpfully categorized into three ‘zones’.

Of course, it’s not as straightforward as starting in one place and ending up on the opposite end – as with city transit systems, there are multiple routes that can be taken. If you’re still daunted by where to start with this map of human anatomy, there’s a helpful “You Are Here” at the heart.

To counter common biases in the medical field, Dr. Simmonds has noted that he will soon update the illustration to include racialized and female versions.

An Enduring Symbol

From a broader design perspective, this anatomical subway map draws inspiration from the famous London Underground design.

When engineering draftsman Harry Beck debuted this map back in the 1930s, it caused quite a stir. Many argued that it wasn’t geographically accurate, and that its scale was wildly skewed.

But that didn’t matter to most commuters. Beck’s map offered something that no one else did – it combined all the different lines into one pocket-sized diagram.

Beck’s map was revolutionary in its simplicity.

– Sam Mullins, London Transport Museum Director

As a result, the Tube’s linear, color-coded aesthetic is arguably the most recognizable transit map in the world today. Many major cities hopped on board with the timeless new look, such as Sydney and Paris.

This iconic subway map design has been used as a visual reference for everything from Ancient Roman roads to the Milky Way. That’s what makes it such a good application for the most complex network of all – the human body.

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Misc

Chart: Which Countries Eat the Most Instant Noodles?

The top ranked country ate about 30 instant noodle servings per person in 2023, at a rate of slightly more than two helpings a month.

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A cropped chart showing the number of instant noodle servings consumed by country in 2023.

Chart: Which Countries Eat the Most Instant Noodles?

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

The world collectively consumed 120 billion instant noodle servings in 2023. But which countries ate the most?

We visualize the country-level breakdown with estimated figures from the World Instant Noodles Association (WINA).

ℹ️ Established in March 1997, WINA collects and distributes data related to instant noodles for safe consumption and quality.

Ranked: Countries by their Instant Noodle Consumption

Unsurprisingly, the now second-most populous country in the world, China, (along with Hong Kong SAR) ate about 42 billion instant noodle servings in 2023. This works out to about 30 noodle helpings per person in the year.

RankCountryRegionInstant Noodle
Servings Consumed
1🇨🇳 China and
🇭🇰 Hong Kong
Asia42.2B
2🇮🇩 IndonesiaAsia14.5B
3🇮🇳 IndiaAsia8.7B
4🇻🇳 VietnamAsia8.1B
5🇯🇵 JapanAsia5.8B
6🇺🇸 U.S.North America5.1B
7🇵🇭 PhilippinesAsia4.4B
8🇰🇷 South KoreaAsia4.0B
9🇹🇭 ThailandAsia4.0B
10🇳🇬 NigeriaAfrica3.0B
11🇧🇷 BrazilSouth America2.6B
12🇷🇺 RussiaEurope/Asia2.2B
N/A🌍 Rest of WorldOther15.6B

Staying in Asia, Indonesia (14.5 billion servings), India (8.7 billion), Vietnam (8.1 billion) and Japan (5.8 billion) make up the top five.

The U.S. is the top ranked country by instant noodle consumption (5.1 billion servings) from outside Asia. There are also only two non-Asian countries in the top 10, with the other being Nigeria (3 billion portions).

Russia is the top ranked European country for instant noodle consumption, 12th overall with 2.2 billion servings.

Noodle Preferences Around the World

There’s a large variety in instant noodle brands worldwide, catering to different populations’ specific cultural and dietary habits.

For example, given Indonesia’s largely Muslim population, most noodle products are halal.

On the other hand, vegetable and tomato-based soups are eaten the most in India due to its large vegetarian population.

Meanwhile, Vietnam prefers a shrimp-flavored broth along with pho rice noodles, which are popular in the country.

To end with a fun fact, instant noodles sold in the U.S. are generally cut shorter due to most people eating them with a spoon and/or fork.

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