Infographic: Visualizing the World's 100 Biggest Islands
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Visualizing the World’s 100 Biggest Islands

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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 100 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?

IslandCountriesRegion
Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland)DenmarkEurope
New GuineaPapua New Guinea, IndonesiaOceania
Pulau Borneo (Kalimantan)Indonesia, Malaysia, BruneiAsia
MadagasikaraMadagascarAfrica
Qikiqtaaluk (Baffin Island, Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
SumatraIndonesiaAsia
HonshuJapanAsia
Kitlineq (Victoria Island)CanadaNorth America
Great BritainUnited KingdomEurope
Ellesmere (Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
SulawesiIndonesiaAsia
Te Waipounamu (South Island)New ZealandOceania
JavaIndonesiaAsia
Te Ika-a-maui (North Island)New ZealandOceania
NewfoundlandCanadaNorth America
CubaCubaNorth America
LuzonPhilippinesAsia
IcelandIcelandEurope
MindanaoPhilippinesAsia
IrelandIreland, United KingdomEurope
HokkaidoJapanAsia
SakhalinRussiaEurasia
HispaniolaDominican Republic, HaitiNorth America
Banks IslandCanadaNorth America
Sri LankaSri LankaAsia
TasmaniaAustraliaOceania
Tatlurutit (Devon Island, Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
Isla Grande de Tierra del FuegoPanamaSouth America
SevernyRussiaEurasia
Shugliaq (Southampton)CanadaNorth America
Axel Heiberg (Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
MelvilleCanadaNorth America
Spitsbergen (Svalbard)NorwayEurope
KyushuJapanAsia
TaiwanTaiwanAsia
New BritainPapua New GuineaOceania
HainanChinaAsia
Prince of Wales (Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
YuzhnyRussiaEurasia
VancouverCanadaNorth America
TimorTimor LesteAsia
SicilyItalyEurope
Kuganajuup Qikiqtanga (Somerset, Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
SardiniaItalyEurope
KotelnyRussiaEurasia
ShikokuJapanAsia
HalmaheraIndonesiaAsia
SeramIndonesiaAsia
New CaledoniaFranceEurope
Bathurst (Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
Prince PatrickCanadaNorth America
SumbawaIndonesiaAsia
NordaustlandetNorwayEurope
October RevolutionRussiaEurasia
FloresIndonesiaAsia
King William (Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
NegrosPhilippinesAsia
SamarPhilippinesAsia
BangkaIndonesiaAsia
Yos SudarsoPapua New GuineaOceania
PanayPhilippinesAsia
Ellef Ringnes (Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
PalawanPhilippinesAsia
BolshevikRussiaEurasia
Bylot (Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
JamaicaCaribbeanNorth America
SumbaIndonesiaAsia
Viti LevuFijiOceania
Hawai'I (Big Island)United StatesNorth America
Cape BretonCanadaNorth America
MindoroPhilippinesAsia
Prince CharlesCanadaNorth America
Kodiak (Alaska)United StatesNorth America
CyprusCyprus, United KingdomEurope
KomsomoletsRussiaEurasia
CorsicaFranceEurope
BougainvillePapua New GuineaOceania
Puerto RicoUnited StatesNorth America
BuruIndonesiaAsia
DiskoGreenlandEurope
ChiloéChileSouth America
CreteGreeceEurope
AnticostiCanadaNorth America
Cornwallis (Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
ZealandDenmarkEurope
Latangai (New Ireland)Papua New GuineaOceania
LeytePhilippinesAsia
Prince of Wales (Alaska)United StatesNorth America
Desolation (Kerguelen)Antarctic Lands, FranceAntarctic
Isla Soledad/ East FalklandArgentinaSouth America
GrahamCanadaNorth America
WellingtonChileSouth America
Novaya Sibir (New Siberian)RussiaEurasia
Yelmalner/ MelvilleAustraliaOceania
Coats (Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
Prince EdwardCanadaNorth America
Vanua LevuFijiOceania
Chichagof (Alaska)United StatesNorth America
BaliIndonesiaAsia
GuadalcanalSolomon IslandsOceania

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.

Biggest Islands Sorted by Population Density

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 DensityIslandCountriesPopulationArea (km²)People per km²
#1JavaIndonesia141,000,000138,7931,015.9
#2BaliIndonesia4,225,0005,780731.0
#3TaiwanTaiwan23,571,00036,193651.3
#4ZealandDenmark3,749,2007,031533.2
#5LuzonPhilippines53,336,134109,965485.0
#6HonshuJapan104,000,000227,960456.2
#7PanayPhilippines4,477,24712,011372.8
#8KyushuJapan12,970,47936,753352.9
#9Puerto RicoUnited States3,195,0009,104350.9
#10NegrosPhilippines4,414,13113,310331.6
#11Sri LankaSri Lanka21,440,00065,610 326.8
#12Great BritainUnited Kingdom66,040,000209,331315.5
#13HispaniolaDominican Republic, Haiti21,396,00076,192 280.8
#14JamaicaCaribbean2,890,00010,992262.9
#15MindanaoPhilippines25,537,69197,530261.8
#16HainanChina8,670,00033,920 255.6
#17ShikokuJapan3,845,53418800204.5
#18SicilyItaly5,057,00025,711196.7
#19FloresIndonesia1,831,00013,540135.2
#20SamarPhilippines1,751,26713,429130.4

The Australia-Island Debate

Upon first publishing this over two years ago, the most common feedback we heard came from our friends Down Under.

In school, many Australians learned that their beloved country was an “island continent”, and naturally felt it should be included on the list of the world’s 100 biggest islands.

As with anything, there are different schools of thought on this. Upon digging deeper, we believed that Encyclopedia Britannica had a explanatory take on the issue:

“Most geographers consider islands and continents to be separate things. An island is a mass of land that is both ‘entirely surrounded by water’ and also ‘smaller than a continent.’ By that definition, Australia can’t be an island because it’s already a continent.”
–Encyclopedia Britannica

There are, of course, opposing arguments that could be had—but at least this gives some perspective on why Australia was likely excluded from this particular list.

This post was first published in 2019. We have since updated it, adding in new content for 2021.

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Mining

Visualizing the Abundance of Elements in the Earth’s Crust

The Earth’s crust makes up 1% of the planet’s volume, but provides all the material we use. What elements make up this thin layer we stand on?

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Visualizing the Abundance of Elements in the Earth’s Crust

This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on natural resource megatrends in your email every week.

Elements in the Earth’s crust provide all the basic building blocks for mankind.

But even though the crust is the source of everything we find, mine, refine, and build, it really is just scratching the surface of our planet.

After all, the innermost layer of the Earth, the core, represents 15% of the planet’s volume, whereas the mantle occupies 84%. Representing the remaining 1% is the crust, a thin layer that ranges in depth from approximately 5-70 km (~3-44 miles).

This infographic takes a look at what elements make up this 1%, based on data from WorldAtlas.

Earth’s Crust Elements

The crust is a rigid surface containing both the oceans and landmasses. Most elements are found in only trace amounts within the Earth’s crust, but several are abundant.

The Earth’s crust comprises about 95% igneous and metamorphic rocks, 4% shale, 0.75% sandstone, and 0.25% limestone.

Oxygen, silicon, aluminum, and iron account for 88.1% of the mass of the Earth’s crust, while another 90 elements make up the remaining 11.9%.

RankElement% of Earth's Crust
1Oxygen (O)46.1%
2Silicon (Si)28.2%
3Aluminum (Al)8.2%
4Iron (Fe)5.6%
5Calcium (Ca)4.1%
6Sodium (Na)2.3%
7Magnesium (Mg)2.3%
8Potassium (K)2.0%
9Titanium (Ti)0.5%
10Hydrogen (H)0.1%
Other elements0.5%
Total100.0%

While gold, silver, copper and other base and precious metals are among the most sought after elements, together they make up less than 0.03% of the Earth’s crust by mass.

#1: Oxygen

Oxygen is by far the most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, making up 46% of mass—coming up just short of half of the total.

Oxygen is a highly reactive element that combines with other elements, forming oxides. Some examples of common oxides are minerals such as granite and quartz (oxides of silicon), rust (oxides of iron), and limestone (oxide of calcium and carbon).

#2: Silicon

More than 90% of the Earth’s crust is composed of silicate minerals, making silicon the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust.

Silicon links up with oxygen to form the most common minerals on Earth. For example, in most places, sand primarily consists of silica (silicon dioxide) usually in the form of quartz. Silicon is an essential semiconductor, used in manufacturing electronics and computer chips.

#3: Aluminum

Aluminum is the third most common element in the Earth’s crust.

Because of its strong affinity for oxygen, aluminum is rarely found in its elemental state. Aluminum oxide (Al2O3), aluminum hydroxide (Al(OH)3) and potassium aluminum sulphate (KAl(SO4)2) are common aluminum compounds.

Aluminum and aluminum alloys have a variety of uses, from kitchen foil to rocket manufacturing.

#4: Iron

The fourth most common element in the Earth’s crust is iron, accounting for over 5% of the mass of the Earth’s crust.

Iron is obtained chiefly from the minerals hematite and magnetite. Of all the metals we mine, over 90% is iron, mainly to make steel, an alloy of carbon and iron. Iron is also an essential nutrient in the human body.

#5: Calcium

Calcium makes up about 4.2% of the planet’s crust by weight.

In its pure elemental state, calcium is a soft, silvery-white alkaline earth metal. It is never found in its isolated state in nature but exists instead in compounds. Calcium compounds can be found in a variety of minerals, including limestone (calcium carbonate), gypsum (calcium sulphate) and fluorite (calcium fluoride).

Calcium compounds are widely used in the food and pharmaceutical industries for supplementation. They are also used as bleaches in the paper industry, as components in cement and electrical insulators, and in manufacturing soaps.

Digging the Earth’s Crust

Despite Jules Verne’s novel, no one has ever journeyed to the center of Earth.

In fact, the deepest hole ever dug by humanity reaches approximately 12 km (7.5 miles) below the Earth’s surface, about one-third of the way to the Earth’s mantle. This incredible depth took about 20 years to reach.

Although mankind is constantly making new discoveries and reaching for the stars, there is still a lot to explore about the Earth we stand on.

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Misc

How Has Car Safety Improved Over 60 Years?

Seatbelts first became mandatory in the US in 1968. Since then, new technologies have greatly reduced road fatalities.

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How Has Car Safety Improved Over 60 Years?

Did you know that in 2019, there were 6.7 million car accidents in the U.S. alone?

This resulted in 36,096 deaths over the year—an awful statistic to say the least—but one that would be much worse if it weren’t for seatbelts, airbags, and other modern safety devices.

In this infographic, we’ve visualized data from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation to show how breakthroughs in car safety have drastically reduced the number of motor vehicle fatalities.

Measuring Safety Improvements

The data shows the number of fatalities for every 100 million miles driven. From a high of 5.1 in 1960 (the first year data is available), we can see that this metric has fallen by 78% to just 1.1.

YearFatilities per 100 million miles
19605.1
19704.7
19803.4
19902.1
20001.5
20101.1
20191.1

What makes this even more impressive is the fact that there are more cars on the road today than in 1960. This can be measured by the total number of miles driven each year.

Vehicle Miles Driven

So, while the total number of miles driven has increased by 371%, the rate of fatalities has decreased by 78%. Below, we’ll take a closer look at some important car safety innovations.

1. The Seatbelt

The introduction of seatbelts was a major stepping stone for improving car safety, especially as vehicles became capable of higher speeds.

The first iteration of seatbelts were a 2-point design because they only looped across a person’s waist (and thus had 2 points of mounting). This design is flawed because it doesn’t hold our upper body in place during a collision.

Today’s seatbelts use a 3-point design which was developed in 1959 by Nils Bohlin, an engineer at Volvo. This design adds a shoulder belt that holds our torso in place during a collision. It took many years for Volvo to not only develop the device, but also to convince the public to use it. The U.S., for instance, did not mandate 3-point seatbelts until 1973.

2. The Airbag

The concept of an airbag is relatively simple—rather than smacking our face against the steering wheel, we cushion the blow with an inflatable pillow.

In practice, however, airbags need to be very precise because it takes just 50 milliseconds for our heads to collide with the wheel in a frontal crash. To inflate in such a short period of time, airbags rely on a chemical reaction using sodium azide.

The design of an airbag’s internal mechanism can also cause issues, as was discovered during the Takata airbag recall. As these airbags inflated, there was a chance for them to also send metal shards flying through the cabin at high speeds.

Dual front airbags (one for each side) were mandated by the U.S. government in 1998. Today, many cars offer side curtain airbags as an option, but these are not required by law.

3. The Backup Camera

Backup cameras became a legal requirement in May 2018, making them one of the newest pieces of standard safety equipment in the U.S. These cameras are designed to reduce the number of backover crashes involving objects, pedestrians, or other cars.

Measuring the safety benefits of backup cameras can be tricky, but a 2014 study did conclude that cameras were useful for preventing collisions. A common criticism of backup cameras is that they limit our field of vision, as opposed to simply turning our heads to face the rear.

Taking Car Safety to the Next Level

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), having both seatbelts and airbags can reduce the chance of death from a head-on collision by 61%. That’s a big reduction, but there’s still plenty of room left on the table for further improvements.

As a result, automakers have been equipping their cars with many technology-enabled safety measures. This includes pre-collision assist systems which use sensors and cameras to help prevent an accident. These systems can prevent you from drifting into another lane (by actually adjusting the steering wheel), or apply the brakes to mitigate an imminent frontal collision.

Whether these systems have any meaningful benefit remains to be seen. Referring to the table above shows that fatalities per 100 million miles have not fallen any further since 2010.

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