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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 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?

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

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Maps

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.

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submarine cable network

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.

tech company submarine cables

Source

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.

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Energy

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.

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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.

Today’s chart comes to us from research compiled by World Bank economist Jim Cust and Natural Resource Governance Institute economist David Mihalyi and it plots major oil discoveries since 1868.

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:

FieldOnshore/OffshoreLocationDiscoveryProduction startRecoverable oil, past and future (billion barrels)
Ghawar FieldOnshoreSaudi Arabia1948195188-104
Burgan FieldOnshoreKuwait1937194866-72
Gachsaran FieldOnshoreIran1927193066
Mesopotamian Foredeep BasinOnshoreKuwaitn/an/a66-72
Bolivar Coastal FieldOnshoreVenezuela1917192230-32
Safaniya FieldOffshoreKuwait/Saudi Arabia1951195730
Esfandiar FieldOffshoreIran1965n/a30
Kashagan FieldOffshoreKazakhstan2000201330
Aghajari FieldOnshoreIran1938194028
Tengiz FieldOnshoreKazakhstan1979199326-40
Ahvaz FieldOnshoreIran1953195425
Upper Zakum FieldOffshoreAbu Dhabi, UAE1963196721
Cantarell FieldOffshoreMexico1976198118-35
Rumaila FieldOnshoreIraq1953195417
Romashkino FieldOnshoreRussia Volga-Ural1948194916-17
Marun FieldOnshoreIran1963196616
Daqing FieldOnshoreChina1959196016
Shaybah FieldOnshoreSaudi Arabia1998199815
West Qurna FieldOnshoreIraq1973201215-21
Samotlor FieldOnshore
Russia, West Siberia
1965196914-16

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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