Visual Capitalist's Top Infographics of 2016
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Our Top Infographics of 2016

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Visual Capitalist's Top Infographics of 2016

Pop the champagne, because 2016 is soon to be history.

And with that, we are proud to wrap up the year with 16 of the best infographics, charts, and data visualizations that we posted over the course of 2016. Just like in last year’s edition, some of the posts below were handpicked by our staff, while others received notably high amounts of shares, views, and comments from our audience.

If you’re new to Visual Capitalist, this countdown is one of the best ways to get acquainted with what we do. It rounds up our most powerful and intuitive visuals that help to simplify complex concepts in business, technology, and investing. If you like what you see below, don’t forget to subscribe to our mailing list or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to get our free content daily.

Important Notes:

Below, we count down our top infographics of 2016. But first, a few quick notes:

  • Images below are previews for a much larger infographic with an accompanying article
  • To view any post in full, click the image or link in the text. All links open in a new tab.

Enjoy the roundup, and wishing you the best in 2017!
– The Visual Capitalist Team

16. The Largest Companies by Market Cap

The Largest Companies by Market Cap Over Time
Is software really eating the world, as Marc Andreessen says? This chart, which shows the largest public companies by market capitalization over the last 15 years, is probably our best proof of technology’s profound impact on the capital markets.

15. Explaining the Surging Demand for Lithium-Ion Batteries

Explaining the Surging Demand for Lithium-Ion Batteries
This year, we covered the buzz around the construction of the massive Tesla Gigafactory in depth.

However, for a broader look at electric cars and how emerging battery technologies will impact the world, our five-part Battery Series is a particularly good primer.

14. The Dominance of Google and Facebook in One Chart

The Dominance of Google and Facebook in One Chart
Most digital publishers are fighting for an increasingly smaller slice of the pie. The one stat that proves it? Nearly $0.60 of every $1 spent on digital advertising goes to Google and Facebook.

13. Visualizing the Size of the U.S. National Debt

Visualizing the Size of the U.S. National Debt
The U.S. national debt is so massive, that it is difficult to truly comprehend its size. We created this infographic as a part of our popular Money Project, with the aim of putting the debt in context.

12. U.S. Healthcare is a Global Outlier (and Not in a Good Way)

U.S. Healthcare is a Global Outlier (and Not in a Good Way)
Americans spent more than $3 trillion, or 17.5% of GDP, on healthcare in 2015. Are they getting any bang for their buck?

This chart, which was shared over 34,000 times by our audience on social media, says it is unlikely.

11. Interactive Map: The Flow of International Trade

Interactive Map: The Flow of International Trade
Explore fascinating data on world trade with this interactive 3D globe. It uniquely groups imports and exports by color, while allowing you to isolate specific countries to see their trade relationships.

10. The 27 Fintech Unicorns, and Where They Were Born

27 Fintech Unicorns, and Where They Were Born
In 2016, the fintech sector took off. This infographic documents the rise of the 27 largest privately-held fintech companies, their valuations, money raised so far, and geographic locations.

9. The Oil Market is Bigger Than All Metal Markets Combined

The Oil Market is Bigger Than All Metal Markets Combined
Ever wonder why the oil industry has so much influence? This was one of our most popular charts of the year – it shows that all metal markets combined don’t even come close to touching the oil market!

8. Currency and the Collapse of the Roman Empire

Currency and the Collapse of the Roman Empire
This infographic on the collapse of the Roman Empire for The Money Project was one of our most illustrative infographics of the year. It explains the role that currency devaluation had in the eventual demise of one of the most famous empires in history.

7. Vancouver Real Estate Mania

Vancouver Real Estate Mania
This infographic tells the story of how Vancouver lost its affordability… and its mind.

6. The Slow Death of Traditional Media

The Slow Death of Traditional Media
Digital media will be the largest advertising channel globally by 2019 – even bigger than television. This chart covers the death of traditional media.

For another interesting post on this topic, also check out our chart covering the trials and tribulations of The New York Times in their attempt to double-down on digital.

5. Step By Step: How Elon Musk Built His Empire

Step By Step: How Elon Musk Built His Empire
At just 45 years of age, Elon Musk has built multiple billion-dollar companies including Tesla Motors, PayPal, SpaceX, and SolarCity. This infographic tells the incredible story of his life, and how he built an impressive and world-changing empire at such a young age.

4. How Much Money Have Humans Created?


Have you ever wondered how much money actually exists out there? This insightful motion graphic for The Money Project looks to compare the world’s money and markets to help answer this question.

It’s a video that every investor should watch, because it gives such great context about the world’s money and markets.

3. These 5 Big Companies Control the World’s Beer

These 5 Big Companies Control the World's Beer
With the completed merger between ABInBev and SABMiller, a new $107 billion megabrewer was created. This now means that there are only five big brewers that control the majority of beer brands around the world, including brands like Budweiser, Coors, Miller, Molson, Corona, Stella Artois, Heineken, Carlsberg, and many more.

2. Are American Consumers Taking On Too Much Debt?

Are American Consumers Taking On Too Much Debt?
This giant infographic uses the latest data from Equifax to answer a pressing question: are U.S. consumers taking on too much debt?

It dives into the history of consumer debt to create context, but then goes right into the numbers on mortgage debt, student debt, auto loans, credit cards, and more. This is a great primer for anyone looking to understand the world of consumer credit.

1. The Real Story Behind Donald Trump’s Wealth


Five months before the election, we created a motion graphic video for The Money Project that detailed the story on how Donald Trump accumulated his wealth.

We found that most media outlets did not do a great job of telling the whole story around his career, and that they omitted many key facts. We decided to do a fun and data-driven video that looked at the successes and failures of Trump, as well as some context around his family history.

The video has received millions of views so far, and we will even be posting a follow-up video in a couple of weeks time before Trump’s inauguration.

A Special Thanks

Our style of great visual content can’t be created for free, and we owe a great deal of our success to our sponsors.

One important sponsor is Texas Precious Metals, a bullion company that helped us create The Money Project. About 25% of our top infographics of 2016 above were done with their support.

If you’re into gold or silver, check them out. Otherwise, if you want to learn more about buying gold or silver bullion, they have a fantastic and free Beginner’s Guide that is worth downloading.

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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.

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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.

#22

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.

#21   CREATOR PROGRAM

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.

#20

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.

#19

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.

#18

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.

#17

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.

#16

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.

#15

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.

#14

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.

#13   CREATOR PROGRAM

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.

#12

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.

#11

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.

#10   CREATOR PROGRAM

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.

#9

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.

#8

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.

#7

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.

#6   CREATOR PROGRAM

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.

#5

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.

#4   CREATOR PROGRAM

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.

#3

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.

#2

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.

#1

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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