Visualizing 100 of the World’s Biggest Islands
View the full-size version of the infographic by clicking here.
When you think of an island, the first thing that might come to mind is a small, sunny beach surrounded by warm waters. But did you know that 11% of the world’s population actually calls islands their home?
Today’s data visualization is designed by mapmaker David Garcia, and it ranks the hundred largest islands found around the world by size.
Islands in the Stream
The 100 biggest islands range from the likes of expansive Greenland to independent Guadalcanal, the largest of the Solomon Islands. But look a little closer, and you’ll see just how much the top contender outshines the rest. Greenland is almost three times the size of the second-biggest island of New Guinea, and you could fit over 408 Guadalcanal islands within it.
In the visualization, the islands are also tinted, depending on the climate they come from. Blue islands are from the polar regions, turquoise islands lie in the temperate zones, and green islands represent the lush tropics. Which of these regions hosts the most islands?
|Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland)||Denmark||Europe|
|New Guinea||Papua New Guinea, Indonesia||Oceania|
|Pulau Borneo (Kalimantan)||Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei||Asia|
|Qikiqtaaluk (Baffin Island, Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Kitlineq (Victoria Island)||Canada||North America|
|Great Britain||United Kingdom||Europe|
|Ellesmere (Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Te Waipounamu (South Island)||New Zealand||Oceania|
|Te Ika-a-maui (North Island)||New Zealand||Oceania|
|Ireland||Ireland, United Kingdom||Europe|
|Hispaniola||Dominican Republic, Haiti||North America|
|Banks Island||Canada||North America|
|Sri Lanka||Sri Lanka||Asia|
|Tatlurutit (Devon Island, Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego||Panama||South America|
|Shugliaq (Southampton)||Canada||North America|
|Axel Heiberg (Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|New Britain||Papua New Guinea||Oceania|
|Prince of Wales (Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Kuganajuup Qikiqtanga (Somerset, Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Bathurst (Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Prince Patrick||Canada||North America|
|King William (Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Yos Sudarso||Papua New Guinea||Oceania|
|Ellef Ringnes (Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Bylot (Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Hawai'I (Big Island)||United States||North America|
|Cape Breton||Canada||North America|
|Prince Charles||Canada||North America|
|Kodiak (Alaska)||United States||North America|
|Cyprus||Cyprus, United Kingdom||Europe|
|Bougainville||Papua New Guinea||Oceania|
|Puerto Rico||United States||North America|
|Cornwallis (Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Latangai (New Ireland)||Papua New Guinea||Oceania|
|Prince of Wales (Alaska)||United States||North America|
|Desolation (Kerguelen)||Antarctic Lands, France||Antarctic|
|Isla Soledad/ East Falkland||Argentina||South America|
|Novaya Sibir (New Siberian)||Russia||Eurasia|
|Coats (Nunavut)||Canada||North America|
|Prince Edward||Canada||North America|
|Chichagof (Alaska)||United States||North America|
It’s the Island Life for Many
North America dominates with 32 islands out of the top 100, but there’s a catch — twelve of them are uninhabitable, thanks to the frigid Arctic temperatures.
Throw the number of people into the mix and the regional overview gets even more interesting. Compared to the rest of the world, Asian islands are teeming with life.
- 28 Asian islands
Total population: 510.4 million
- 14 European islands
Total population: 83.8 million
- 32 North American islands
Total population: 40.7 million
- 12 Oceania islands
Total population: 18.3 million
Taking things a step further, we’ve remixed the visualization based on population density.
Click below to view the full-size version.
The most populated island in the world, Java is filled to the brim with 141 million people — that’s over a thousand people per square kilometer. This is in part thanks to the capital city Jakarta being located on the island, but experts warn those days may be short lived. By 2050, scientific models predict that 95% of the city may be underwater, and that Indonesia must scramble to find a new capital.
To finish, here is the 20 most dense islands on the list, in terms of population density.
|Rank by Density||Island||Countries||Population||Area (km²)||People per km²|
|#9||Puerto Rico||United States||3,195,000||9,104||350.9|
|#11||Sri Lanka||Sri Lanka||21,440,000||65,610||326.8|
|#12||Great Britain||United Kingdom||66,040,000||209,331||315.5|
|#13||Hispaniola||Dominican Republic, Haiti||21,396,000||76,192||280.8|
Wired World: 35 Years of Submarine Cables in One Map
Watch the explosive growth of the global submarine cable network, and learn who’s funding the next generation of cables.
You could be reading this article from nearly anywhere in the world and there’s a good chance it loaded in mere seconds.
Long gone are the days when images would load pixel row by pixel row. Now, even high-quality video is instantly accessible from almost everywhere. How did the internet get so fast? Because it’s moving at the speed of light.
The Information Superhighway
The miracle of modern fiber optics can be traced to a single man, Narinder Singh Kapany. The young physicist was skeptical when his professors asserted that light ‘always travels in a straight line’. His explorations into the behavior of light eventually led to the creation of fiber optics—essentially, beaming light through a thin glass tube.
The next step to using fiber optics as a means of communication was lowering the cable’s attenuation rate. Throughout the 1960-70s, companies made gains in manufacturing, reducing the number of impurities and allowing light to cross great distances without a dramatic decrease in signal intensity.
By the mid-1980s, long distance fiber optic cables had finally reached the feasibility stage.
Crossing the Pond
The first intercontinental fiber optic cable was strung across the floor of the Atlantic Ocean in 1988. The cable—known as TAT-8*—was spearheaded by three companies; AT&T, France Télécom, and British Telecom. The cable was able to carry the equivalent of 40,000 telephone channels, a ten-fold increase over its galvanic predecessor, TAT-7.
Once the kinks of the new cable were worked out, the floodgates were open. During the course of the 1990s, many more cables hit the ocean floor. By the dawn of the new millennium, every populated continent on Earth was connected by fiber optic cables. The physical network of the internet was beginning to take shape.
As today’s video from ESRI shows, the early 2000s saw a boom in undersea cable development, reflecting the uptick in internet usage around globe. In 2001 alone, eight new cables connected North America and Europe.
From 2016-2020, over 100 new cables were laid with an estimated value of $14 billion. Now, even the most remote Polynesian islands have access to high-speed internet thanks to undersea cables.
*TAT-8 does not appear in the video above as it was retired in 2002.
The Shifting Nature of Cable Construction
Even though nearly every corner of the globe is now physically connected, the rate of cable construction is not slowing down.
This is due to the increasing capacity of new cables and our appetite for high-quality video content. New cables are so efficient that the majority of potential capacity along major cable routes will come from cables that are less than five years old.
Traditionally, a consortium of telecom companies or governments would fund cable construction, but tech companies are increasingly funding their own submarine cable networks.
Amazon, Microsoft and Google own close to 65% market share in cloud data storage, so it’s understandable that they’d want to control the physical means of transporting that data as well.
These three companies now own 63,605 miles of submarine cable. While laying cable is a costly endeavor, it’s necessary to meet surging demand—content providers’ share of data transmission skyrocketed from around 8% to nearly 40% over the past decade.
A Bright Future for Dark Fiber
At the same time, more aging cables will be taken offline. Even though signals are no longer traveling through this network of “dark fiber”, it’s still being put to productive use. It turns out that undersea telecom cables make a very effective seismic network, helping researchers study offshore earthquakes and the geologic structures on the ocean floor.
Mapped: The World’s Biggest Oil Discoveries Since 1868
Since 1868, there had been 1,232 oil discoveries over 500 million barrels of oil. This map plots these discoveries to reveal global energy hot spots.
Mapped: The World’s Biggest Oil Discoveries Since 1868
Oil and gas discoveries excite markets and nations with the prospect of profits, tax revenues, and jobs. However, geological processes did not distribute them equally throughout the Earth’s crust and their mere presence does not guarantee a windfall for whatever nation under which they lie.
Entire economies and nations have been built on the discovery and exploitation of oil and gas, while some nations have misused this wealth─or projected growth just never materialized.
The 20 Biggest Oil Discoveries
This map includes 1,232 discoveries of recoverable reserves over 500 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) From 1868 to 2010.
The discoveries cluster in certain parts of the world, covering 46 countries, and are of significant magnitude for each country’s economy. The average discovery is worth 1.4% of a country’s GDP today, based on the cash value from their production or net present value (NPV).
Of the total 1,232 discoveries, these are the 20 largest oil and gas fields:
|Field||Onshore/Offshore||Location||Discovery||Production start||Recoverable oil, past and future (billion barrels)|
|Ghawar Field||Onshore||Saudi Arabia||1948||1951||88-104|
|Mesopotamian Foredeep Basin||Onshore||Kuwait||n/a||n/a||66-72|
|Bolivar Coastal Field||Onshore||Venezuela||1917||1922||30-32|
|Safaniya Field||Offshore||Kuwait/Saudi Arabia||1951||1957||30|
|Upper Zakum Field||Offshore||Abu Dhabi, UAE||1963||1967||21|
|Romashkino Field||Onshore||Russia Volga-Ural||1948||1949||16-17|
|Shaybah Field||Onshore||Saudi Arabia||1998||1998||15|
|West Qurna Field||Onshore||Iraq||1973||2012||15-21|
Russia, West Siberia
The location of these deposits reveals a certain pattern to geopolitical flashpoints and their importance to the global economy.
While these discoveries have brought immense advantages in the form of cheap fuel and massive revenues, they have also altered and challenged how nations govern their natural wealth.
The Future of Resource Wealth: A Curse or a Blessing?
A ‘presource curse’ could follow in the wake of the discovery, whereby predictions of projected growth and feelings of euphoria turn into disappointment.
An oil discovery can impose detrimental consequences on an economy long before a single barrel leaves the ground. Ideally, a discovery should increase the economic output of a country that claims the oil. However, after major discoveries, the projected growth sometimes does not always materialize as predicted.
Getting from discovery to sustained prosperity depends on a number of steps. Countries must secure investment to develop a project to production, and government policy must respond by preparing the economy for an inflow of investment and foreign currency. However, this is a challenging prospect, as the appetite for these massive projects appears to be waning.
In a world working towards reducing its dependence on fossil fuels, what will happen to countries that depend on oil wealth when demand begins to dwindle?
Countries can no longer assume their oil and gas resources will translate into reliable wealth — instead, it is how you manage what you have now that counts.
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