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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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Countries

Charted: The Number of Democracies Globally

How many democracies does the world have? This visual shows the change since 1945 and the top nations becoming more (and less) democratic.

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Charted: The Number of Democracies Globally

The end of World War II in 1945 was a turning point for democracies around the world.

Before this critical turning point in geopolitics, democracies made up only a small number of the world’s countries, both legally and in practice. However, over the course of the next six decades, the number of democratic nations would more than quadruple.

Interestingly, studies have found that this trend has recently reversed as of the 2010s, with democracies and non-democracies now in a deadlock.

In this visualization, Staffan Landin uses data from V-DEM’s Electoral Democratic Index (EDI) to highlight the changing face of global politics over the past two decades and the nations that contributed the most to this change.

The Methodology

V-DEM’s EDI attempts to measure democratic development in a comprehensive way, through the contributions of 3,700 experts from countries around the world.

Instead of relying on each nation’s legally recognized system of government, the EDI analyzes the level of electoral democracy in countries on a range of indicators, including:

  • Free and fair elections
  • Rule of law
  • Alternative sources of information and association
  • Freedom of expression

Countries are assigned a score on a scale from 0 to 1, with higher scores indicating a higher level of democracy. Each is also categorized into four types of functional government, from liberal and electoral democracies to electoral and closed autocracies.

Which Countries Have Declined the Most?

The EDI found that numerous countries around the world saw declines in democracy over the past two decades. Here are the 10 countries that saw the steepest decline in EDI score since 2010:

CountryDemocracy Index (2010)Democracy Index (2022)Points Lost
🇭🇺 Hungary0.800.46-34
🇵🇱 Poland0.890.59-30
🇷🇸 Serbia0.610.34-27
🇹🇷 Türkiye0.550.28-27
🇮🇳 India0.710.44-27
🇲🇱 Mali0.510.25-26
🇹🇭 Thailand0.440.20-24
🇦🇫 Afghanistan0.380.16-22
🇧🇷 Brazil0.880.66-22
🇧🇯 Benin0.640.42-22

Central and Eastern Europe was home to three of the countries seeing the largest declines in democracy. Hungary, Poland, and Serbia lead the table, with Hungary and Serbia in particular dropping below scores of 0.5.

Some of the world’s largest countries by population also decreased significantly, including India and Brazil. Across most of the top 10, the “freedom of expression” indicator was hit particularly hard, with notable increases in media censorship to be found in Afghanistan and Brazil.

Countries Becoming More Democratic

Here are the 10 countries that saw the largest increase in EDI score since 2010:

CountryDemocracy Index (2010)Democracy Index (2022)Points Gained
🇦🇲 Armenia0.340.74+40
🇫🇯 Fiji0.140.40+26
🇬🇲 The Gambia0.250.50+25
🇸🇨 Seychelles0.450.67+22
🇲🇬 Madagascar0.280.48+20
🇹🇳 Tunisia0.400.56+16
🇱🇰 Sri Lanka0.420.57+15
🇬🇼 Guinea-Bissau0.410.56+15
🇲🇩 Moldova0.590.74+15
🇳🇵 Nepal0.460.59+13

Armenia, Fiji, and Seychelles saw significant improvement in the autonomy of their electoral management bodies in the last 10 years. Partially as a result, both Armenia and Seychelles have seen their scores rise above 0.5.

The Gambia also saw great improvement across many election indicators, including the quality of voter registries, vote buying, and election violence. It was one of five African countries to make the top 10 most improved democracies.

With the total number of democracies and non-democracies almost tied over the past four years, it is hard to predict the political atmosphere in the future.

Want to know more about democracy in today’s world? Check out our global breakdown of each country’s democratic score in Mapped: The State of Global Democracy in 2022.
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