Visual Capitalist's Top 15 Infographics of 2015
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Visual Capitalist’s Top 15 Infographics of 2015

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Visual Capitalist's Top 15 Infographics of 2015

Put down your turkey leftovers and the rum-infused eggnog – it’s time to recap our favorite posts on Visual Capitalist from 2015.

The following list includes a mix of infographics, data visualizations, and charts. Some of the posts listed here were among the most popular graphics on the entire site. Others that made the list are graphics that are diamonds in the rough.

If you are new to the site, it also may be worth checking out last year’s edition of this post that covered the best content from 2014.

Without further ado…

15. By this measure, the U.S. has the 2nd highest national debt

15-world-debt-2
The standard measure for national debt compares a country’s debt with its economic output as measured by GDP.

In this data visualization, however, we showed that the world looks very different using a debt-to-revenue ratio instead. We visualize the national debt as compared to the amount of tax revenue coming into the central government’s coffers, which is arguably a better way to look at a country’s capacity to pay.

14. The Cybersecurity Boom

14-cybersecurity

Over recent years, the world has been under siege from cyberattacks. Blue chip companies like J.P. Morgan Chase, Target, and Sony were hacked, and even the U.S. government was compromised with over 20 million records stolen. Cybersecurity companies are here to help us fight back, and that’s what makes the industry interesting for investors.

The market in cybersecurity is expected to be worth more than $170 billion by 2020.

13. Mapping Every Power Plant in the United States

13-mapping-power-plants

Every wonder how much power in the United States is generated by solar in comparison to nuclear plants? This post is for you.

In this data visualization, every power plant in the country is mapped and quantified. The end result is a crystal clear picture of how electricity is really generated.

12. The Jade series

12-jade

Did you know that China’s cultural affinity for jade has existed for longer than Western civilization?

This highly illustrative three-part series examines this as well as the emerging nephrite jade market in British Columbia.

11. The U.S. Debt Ceiling Has Risen No Matter Who is in Office

11-us-debt-ceiling

Around October, U.S. lawmakers reached an impasse on raising the debt ceiling. Republicans wanted to play hardball by linking a ceiling increase to conservative issues, but our chart shows that this kind of brinkmanship may have been inauthentic to start with.

The reality is clear: the debt ceiling has risen no matter who is in office.

10. The Race for Arctic Domination

10-arctic-domination

There’s a new “cold war”, but this time it is in the freezing Arctic. Over recent decades, ice has thawed in the Arctic and 2008 became the first year that both the Northeast Passage (North of Russia) and the Northwest Passage (North of Canada) were open to ships simultaneously.

This means it may be the first time that a vessel could theoretically circumnavigate the North Pole in 125,000 years. Not surprisingly, countries such as Russia, Canada, Norway, Denmark, and the United States have taken notice and are posturing accordingly.

9. Millennials on Investing, Debt, and Banking

9-millennials-banking

Polls show that 65% of millennials feel confident about their finances. This is higher than all other generations.

The problem? Their actual knowledge about investing, debt, and banking is questionable at best.

8. Most Americans Reached Peak Income More than 15 Years Ago

8-americans-peak-income-15-years

The majority of Americans are worse off than they were 15 years ago. That’s because Census data shows that 1,623 counties reached their highest income in 1999.

Even further, there are 782 counties that have their best days way behind them. Their incomes peaked 35 or more years ago.

7. Order From Chaos: How Big Data Will Change the World

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We’ve all heard about “Big Data”, but what is it really? This infographic explains everything you need to know behind this new reality for business, and its implications for companies and investors.

6. Canada’s has the Most Overvalued Housing Market in the World

6-canada-housing-market

The Economist has determined that Canada’s property market is the most overvalued in the world in terms of rent prices (+89%), and the third most overvalued in terms of incomes (+35%).

In the post, we go over some of the arguments for and against Canada’s frothy market.

5. China Consumes Mind-Boggling Amounts of Raw Materials

5-china-consumes-commodities

The 1.4 billion people living in China account for 13% of global GDP, but this chart shows that for commodity producers, the country means so much more. China consumes upwards of half of the world’s cement, aluminum, and nickel, along with huge amounts of other base metals, energy commodities, precious metals, and food.

4. $60 Trillion of World Debt in One Visualization

4-world-debt-visualization

Two weeks before this post, we had published a chart showing the world economy in one visualization. In the corresponding comments section, a user asked us if we could put together a similar visualization but instead looking at world debt.

This visualization on national debt was the end result, and it ended up making the front page of Reddit, as well as being posted on Business Insider, The Huffington Post, The World Economic Forum, Zero Hedge, Daily Reckoning,

3. The Industrial Internet and How It’s Revolutionizing Mining

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The industrial internet is the convergence of the global industrial sector with the internet of things. In this infographic we show how this new technology will change how the mining sector works.

2. Powering New York

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This was one of our favorite posts of the year.

In this slideshow, we visualize what it takes to power NYC with every type of energy including gas, wind, solar, nuclear, and more.

1. All the World’s Money and Markets in One Visualization

1-all-worlds-money

We created this year’s top post for The Money Project which we are doing in conjunction with Texas Precious Metals.

In the data visualization, we compare the world’s money and markets to help give perspective to global money supply.

The final result was one of our most viewed infographics of all time, receiving over 1,000,000 views in just a matter of weeks. It was featured on Marketwatch, Business Insider, Zero Hedge, Morningstar, as well as making the front page of Reddit.

What was your favorite post of the year? What would you like to see more of? Feel free to sound off in the comments section.

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Misc

10 Travel Destinations for Post-Pandemic Life

Excited to get back to travelling the world? This infographic highlights the 10 most popular tourist destinations.

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10 Travel Destinations for Post-Pandemic Life

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization formally classified the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic. The resulting travel bans decimated the tourism industry, and international air travel initially fell by as much as 98%.

Almost two years later, travel is finally back on the table, though there are many restrictions to consider. Regardless, a survey conducted in September 2021 found that, as things revert to normalcy, 82% of Americans are looking forward to international travel more than anything else.

To give inspiration for your next vacation (whenever that may be), this infographic lists the 10 most visited countries in 2019, as well as three of their top attractions according to Google Maps.

Bon Voyage

Here were the 10 most popular travel destinations in 2019, measured by their number of international arrivals.

CountryNumber of international arrivals in 2019 (millions)
🇫🇷 France*90.0
🇪🇸 Spain83.5
🇺🇸 U.S.79.3
🇨🇳 China65.7
🇮🇹 Italy64.5
🇹🇷 Turkey51.2
🇲🇽 Mexico45.0
🇹🇭 Thailand39.8
🇩🇪 Germany39.6
🇬🇧 United Kingdom39.4

*Estimate | Source: World Bank

France was the most popular travel destination by a significant margin, and it’s easy to see why. The country is home to many of the world’s most renowned sights, including the Arc de Triomphe and Louvre Museum.

The Arc de Triomphe was built in the early 1800s, and honors those who died in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. In 1944, Allied soldiers marched through the monument after Paris was liberated from the Nazis.

The Louvre Museum, on the other hand, is often recognized by its giant glass pyramid. The museum houses over 480,000 works of art, including Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

Art isn’t the only thing that France has to offer. The country has a reputation for culinary excellence, and is home to 632 Michelin-starred restaurants, the most out of any country. Japan comes in at second, with 413.

While You’re There…

After seeing the sights in Paris, you may want to consider a visit to Spain. The country is the southern neighbor of France and is known for its beautiful villages and beaches.

One of its most impressive sights is the Sagrada Familia, a massive 440,000 square feet church which began construction in 1882, and is still being worked on today (139 years in the making). The video below shows the structure’s striking evolution.

At a height of 172 meters, the Sagrada Familia is approximately 52 stories tall.

Another popular spot is Ibiza, an island off the coast of Spain that is famous for its robust nightlife scene. The island is frequently mentioned in pop culture—Netflix released an adventure/romance movie titled Ibiza in 2018, and the remix of Mike Posner’s song I Took a Pill in Ibiza has over 1.4 billion views on YouTube.

Beaches Galore

If you’re looking for something outside of Europe, consider Mexico or Thailand, which are the 7th and 8th most popular travel destinations. Both offer hot weather and an abundance of white sand beaches.

If you need even more convincing, check out these links:

Expect Turbulence

Under normal circumstances, hundreds of billions of dollars are spent each year by international tourists. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTCC), this spending accounted for an impressive 10.4% of global GDP in 2019.

Travel restrictions introduced in 2020 dealt a serious blow to the industry, reducing its share of global GDP to 5.5%, and wiping out an estimated 62 million jobs. While the WTCC believes these jobs could return by 2022, the emerging Omicron variant has already prompted many countries to tighten restrictions once again.

To avoid headaches in the future, make sure you fully understand the rules and restrictions of where you’re heading.

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Misc

Which Values Children Should Be Encouraged to Learn, By Country

Which qualities do people think are most important for children to learn? The answer differs from country to country.

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Qualities Children Should Learn

Many of the values we prioritize as adults were instilled in us during our childhood days.

They’re called our formative years for a reason—from when we’re born up until we’re about eight years old, our brains are easily molded and remain highly sensitive to external influences and environments. But depending on where you grew up, you may have been exposed to different values during your childhood compared to someone from another place.

These visualizations by Anders Sundell illustrate the most important values people think children should learn at home, across more than 80 different countries.

Methodology

Sundell used data from the World Values Survey, an international survey that interviews hundreds of thousands of participants from across the globe. Respondents were asked to pick up to five qualities they believe are the most desirable for children to have:

  • Good manners
  • Independence
  • Hard work
  • Feeling of responsibility
  • Imagination
  • Tolerance and respect for other people
  • Thrift, saving money
  • Determination and perseverance
  • Religious faith
  • Unselfishness
  • Obedience

Sundell took the survey data and calculated the proportion of people in each country that selected each quality. From there, he took the top qualities and created three separate plot graphs to show the contrast between them.

Let’s look at the importance that countries placed on different values, including (1) independence and obedience, (2) unselfishness and religious faith, and (3) hard work and imagination.

1. Independence vs Obedience

Nordic countries value independence greatly, and find obedience to be a less important quality to instill in children.

Independence_vs_Obedience

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Other available data also supports that adults in Nordic countries value independence. According to Eurostat, the most common age to leave home in Sweden is between 17 and 18—nearly a decade sooner than the average age across the EU (26 years old).

Denmark’s average age to leave home is also below the European average, at 21 years old.

On the other end of the spectrum, countries like Iraq and Egypt believe obedience is much more important for children to learn.

2. Unselfishness vs Religious Faith

Bangladesh, Egypt, and Jordan all place a strong emphasis on faith, and fall on the far right of this graph.

unselfishness_versus_faith

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Islam is a strong influence in all three of these countries. In Bangladesh and Jordan, it’s the official state religion. And while Egypt is a secular country, a majority of citizens identify as Muslim—about 90% of the population.

Interestingly, places like the U.S. and Hong Kong fall right in the between, placing relatively equal importance on religion and unselfishness.

3. Hard Work vs Imagination

Left-leaning Nordic countries like Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland think imagination is more important for children to learn than hard work.

Hardwork_versus_imagination

View the full-size infographic

Interestingly, Japan also scored high for imagination, seeing it was a more important value to teach children than hard work. This is despite the fact that the country has an international reputation for being a hardworking country, where even taking an extended vacation can be frowned upon. Then again, Japan has a reputation for producing wildly creative works of art that are popular internationally (anime, for instance).

As expected, countries and cultures contain multitudes, and can often seem paradoxical and complex to those who try to codify them.

What qualities do you think are most important, and what countries surprised you with their placements?

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