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The Year in News 2015

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The Year in News 2015

The Year in News 2015

Every social media platform has a differentiating factor that determines how it’s used. LinkedIn, for example, is best suited for networking and business, while Instagram is designed to share photos.

The key differentiation of Twitter has become clear over time: it allows users to stay on top of news and events that are trending all over the world in real-time. It also gives politicians, media, business leaders, and celebrities a soapbox to get their opinions out to the general public. This creates a natural feedback loop to reinforce what is “trending” at any given time.

Echelon Insights, a market research company, has taken advantage of Twitter’s gold mine of data to create a visualization of news in 2015. By analyzing 459.9 million tweets from Americans over the course of the last year, we can now see what topics trended, along with the timing and magnitude of each trending topic.

To ensure that trending news stood out, Echelon Insights removed some of the data outliers related to perennial conversations that get mentions, including President Obama (55 million mentions) and the Republican and Democratic parties. With that filter applied, the most discussed person or issue in the news this year was Donald Trump, with 43 million U.S. mentions, followed by Hillary Clinton, with 31.5 million.

Most Popular News Stories of 2015

SubjectNumber of tweets
Donald Trump43.0 million
Hillary Clinton31.5 million
Iraq & ISIS24.0 million
Bernie Sanders19.2 million
#BlackLivesMatter15.0 million
Iran14.8 million
Freddie Gray13.1 million
Jeb Bush12.5 million
Guns11.8 million
Planned Parenthood11.2 million

The above trending topics were relatively steady and newsworthy throughout the year. However, Echelon also tried to get an idea of the news stories that “spiked” the most by filtering out some of the more constant topics of conversation. Here are the top five stories along with the mentions they gained in the week that they dominated headlines:

Top 5 News Events of 2015

Top EventsNumber of tweets
The Paris attacks, Nov. 8–158.9 million
Freddie Gray & Baltimore, Apr. 26-May 37.1 million
Donald Trump & Muslim immigration, Dec. 6:5.0 million
The Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage nationwide, Jun. 214.9 million
The Charleston shooting, Jun. 143.2 million

The terror attacks in Paris dominated all headlines with 8.9 million tweets. Here’s a final look at the data, except this time it is the same filtered data visualized by mentions per day.

(Click for a larger image)
News headline by issue for each day

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Data Visualization

Assembling the World Country-by-Country, Based on Economy Size

How does the world map change if it gets assembled based on the size of economies, in ascending order of GDP or GDP per capita?

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If you had to sketch a world map, you’d probably start with a place that is familiar.

Perhaps you would begin by drawing your own continent, or maybe you’d focus on the specific borders of the country you live in. Then, you’d likely move to drawing the outlines of neighboring countries, eventually working your way to far and distant lands.

This would be a logical way for anyone to think about such a task, and it gives some insight as to how humans think about the world.

We start with what’s familiar, and build it out until it’s a complete picture.

Assembling the World by Economy Size

What if we assembled a world map in a completely different order?

Today’s two animations come to us from Engaging-Data, and they approach the world map from an alternate angle: assembling countries on the map in the order of their economic footprints.

GDP (Nominal)

The first map, shown below, uses nominal GDP to assemble countries in ascending order:

Country GDP

This version of the map shows the smallest economies first, with the larger economies at the end.

For this reason, the first economies appearing on the map tend to be developing nations, or nations with smaller geographical or demographic footprints.

For example, even though the Falkland Islands are wealthy on a per capita basis, the British Overseas Territory has fewer than 4,000 people, which gives it a minor footprint on a global stage.

GDP per Capita (Nominal)

Now, let’s take a look at the same map, constructed in order of GDP per capita:

Country GDP per Capita

This animation is more cohesive, given that it is not dependent on population size. Instead the order here is based on economic output (in nominal terms) of the average person in each country or jurisdiction.

In this case, developing nations appear first – and at the end, more developed regions (like Europe and North America) tend to fill out.

Note: All rankings here are in nominal terms, which use market rates to calculate comparable values in U.S. dollars, while omitting the cost of living as a factor. GDP rankings change significantly when using PPP rates.

Other Ways to Assemble the World

While assembling nations based on GDP provides an interesting way to look at the world, this same approach can be tried by applying other statistics as well.

We recommend checking out this page, which allows you to “assemble the world” based on measures like population density, life expectancy, or population.

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Data Visualization

Visualizing the Happiest Country on Every Continent

Where are the happiest, least happy, and fastest improving countries worldwide? We’ve broken down this annual ranking by region to answer that question.

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Visualizing the Happiest Country on Every Continent

The state of our world is shifting beneath our feet — economics alone no longer equate to satisfaction, let alone happiness.

Today’s visualization pulls data from the seventh World Happiness Report 2019, which ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels. We’ve previously shown the variables used to measure happiness in this report, but here, we break down rankings by continent and region for a clearer picture of where each country lies.

happiness north america map

North America

Unhappy Americans have caused the country to tumble in rankings for a third straight year, despite evidence that things are generally looking up. The report attributes much of this erosion to a variety of addictions: opioids, workaholism, gambling, internet, exercise, and even shopping are among them.

Haiti is the least happy country in this region. The country is still struggling to rebuild sanitation infrastructure and other educational and healthcare programs, despite foreign aid.

In brighter news, Nicaragua is seeing great gains in happiness levels, as the country makes a concentrated effort to reduce poverty.

happiness south america map

South America

In South America, the majority of countries cluster around a score of six on the happiness scale.

The one notable exception to this is Venezuela, which is faltering in both happiness rank and regional improvement. The nation’s hyperinflation and humanitarian crisis both show no signs of slowing down.

happiness europe map

Europe

Finland comes out on top of the world for a second consecutive year, and it’s not difficult to see why. The country boasts a stable work-life balance, bolstered by a comprehensive welfare state.

Scandinavian countries appear among the happiest nations for similar very reasons — elevating the region’s score to 16% above the global average.

On the flip side, Ukraine is the unhappiest, likely intensified by the ongoing war in southeastern Donbass. Greece is the least improved, as it continues to heal from the sovereign debt crisis.

happiness middle east map

Middle East and Central Asia

Uzbekistan shows the swiftest regional improvement, as the country has launched an ambitious reform agenda for greater economic, social, and political development and openness.

Unfortunately, Syria’s continued civil war comes with a heavy price for its people and economy, as does the Palestinian-Israeli conflict — although the latter doesn’t seem to impact Israel’s happiness ranking. In fact, Israel finished with the 13th best score, globally.

happiness asia 2019

Rest of Asia and Oceania

In East Asia, the average happiness score is quite close to the global average, with Taiwan standing out as the happiest country.

Singapore out-competes other countries within Southeast Asia, despite only being home to a population of 5.6 million. Its neighbor Malaysia, however, plunged from 35th to 80th place.

Oceania stands alone – Australia and New Zealand are closely matched in their individual happiness scores.

happiness africa map

Africa

The African continent as a whole fares 19.2% below the global average. But there are silver linings, with strong strides towards improvement being made.

Mauritius benefits from good governance and a buoyant tourism sector — with visitor arrivals equal to the island’s 1.3 million population. Meanwhile, Benin has soared in the rankings, and is supported by the World Bank in key structural reforms such as poverty reduction and access to basic services.

What could these rankings look like in another ten years?

Notes: The Africa map was updated to show more country scores. The report only covers 156 countries, so “Oceania” only refers to Australia and New Zealand in this instance.

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