Which Countries are Mapping the Ocean Floor?
Our vast and complex planet is becoming less mysterious with each passing day.
Consider the following:
- Thousands of satellites are now observing every facet of our planet
- Around three-quarters of Earth’s land surface is now influenced by human activity
- Aircraft-based LIDAR mapping is creating new models of the physical world in staggering detail
But, despite all of these impressive advances, our collective knowledge of the ocean floor still has some surprising blind spots.
Today’s unique map from cartographer Andrew Douglas-Clifford (aka The Map Kiwi) focuses on ocean territory instead of land, highlighting the vast areas of the ocean floor that remain unmapped. Which countries are exploring their offshore territory, and how much of the ocean floor still remains a mystery to us? Let’s dive in.
What Do We Know Right Now?
Today, we have a surprisingly incomplete picture of what lies beneath the waves. In fact, if you were to fly from Los Angeles to Sydney, the bulk of your journey would take place over territory that is mapped in only the broadest sense.
Most of what we know about the ocean floor’s topography was pieced together from gravity data gathered by satellites. While useful as a starting point, the resulting spatial resolution is about two square miles (5km). By comparison, topographic maps of Mars and Venus have a resolution that’s 50x more detailed.
As the map above clearly illustrates, only a few large pieces of the ocean have been mapped—and not surprisingly, many of these higher resolution portions lie along the world’s shipping lanes.
Another way to see this clear difference in resolution is through Google Maps:
As you can see above, these shipping lanes running through the Pacific Ocean have been mapped at a higher resolution that the surrounding ocean floor.
The Countries Mapping the Ocean Floor
The closer an area is to a population center, the higher the likelihood it has been mapped. That said, many countries still have a long way to go before they have a clear picture of their land beneath the waves.
Here is a snapshot of how far along countries are in their subsea mapping efforts:
|Countries/territories||Size of Exclusive Economic Zone* (EEZ)||Percentage of EEZ mapped|
|Japan||1,729,501 mi² (4,479,388 km²)||97.7%|
|United Kingdom||2,627,651 mi² (6,805,586 km²)||90.6%|
|Norway||920,922 mi² (2,385,178 km²)||81.9%|
|New Zealand||1,576,742 mi² (4,083,744 km²)||74.0%|
|United States||4,382,645 mi² (11,351,000 km²)||69.9%|
|Australia||3,283,933 mi² (8,505,348 km²)||64.9%|
|Iceland||291,121 mi² (754,000 km²)||49.9%|
|South Africa||592,874 mi² (1,535,538 km²)||39.5%|
|Canada||2,161,815 mi² (5,599,077 km²)||38.8%|
|Samoa||49,401 mi² (127,950 km²)||34.6%|
|South Korea||183,579 mi² (475,469 km²)||28.3%|
|Taiwan||32,135 mi² (83,231 km²)||26.3%|
|Argentina||447,516 mi² (1,159,063 km²)||22.6%|
|Cook Islands||756,770 mi² (1,960,027 km²)||29.0%|
|Phillippines||614,203 mi² (1,590,780 km²)||16.7%|
|China||338,618 mi² (877,019 km²)||11.4%|
|Madagascar||473,075 mi² (1,225,259 km²)||5.5%|
|Bangladesh||45,873 mi² (118,813 km²)||3.3%|
|Thailand||115,597 mi² (299,397 km²)||1.5%|
*An exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is the sea zone stretching 200 nautical miles (nmi) from the coast of a state.
Japan and the UK, which have the 5th and 8th largest EEZs respectively, are the clear leaders in mapping their ocean territory.
Piecing Together the Puzzle
Sometimes tragedy can have a silver lining. By the time the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 concluded in 2014, scientists had gained access to more than 100,000 square miles of newly mapped sections of the Indian Ocean.
Of course, it will take a more systematic approach and sustained effort to truly map the world’s ocean floors. Thankfully, a project called Seabed 2030 has the ambitious goal of mapping the entire ocean floor by 2030. The organization is collaborating with existing mapping initiatives in various regions to compile bathymetric information (undersea map data).
It’s been said without hyperbole that we know more about the surface of Mars than we do about our own planet’s seabed, but thanks to the efforts of Seabed 2030 and other initiatives around the world, puzzle pieces are finally falling into place.
Visualizing the Global Coffee Trade by Country
Which countries export, and import, the most coffee? This visual highlights the global coffee trade by export flows in 2019.
Visualizing the Global Coffee Trade by Country
From drip coffees to decadent lattes, every cup of coffee begins its journey from the humble coffee bean. A massive global coffee trade moves these beans from farms in one country to cafes in another.
In this piece, Airi Ryu uses data from Chatham House’s resourcetrade.earth to track the global trade of unroasted and non-decaffeinated coffee beans in 2019, highlighting the world’s top coffee exporters and importers.
The Biggest Exporters in the Global Coffee Trade
Close to 84% of the world’s coffee bean exports come from just 10 countries.
All these countries are found in the “Bean Belt” between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn where coffee grows best. These top coffee-producing nations include Brazil, Vietnam, and Colombia.
Here are the top coffee exporting nations in 2019:
|Rank||Country||Coffee Exports (Tonnes)||Share of Total|
|n/a||🌍 Others (re-export)||0.40M||5.2%|
The South American nations of Brazil, Colombia, and Peru export nearly 42% of the global coffee beans. Brazil exported over 2.2 million tonnes in 2019 alone, more than a quarter of the global coffee trade.
Across the Pacific, Vietnam and Indonesia together exported 23.4% of the world’s coffee beans in 2019. Other major exporters include the Central American nations of Honduras and Guatemala, which combined for 8.7% of global coffee bean exports, and the African nations Uganda and Ethiopia with 6.7% combined.
Biggest Coffee Bean Importers, By Country
On the other side of the global coffee trade are nations with high demand for coffee dominating import shares. Many of these importing nations also re-export coffee beans to other parts of the world under their own local brands.
Here are the top coffee importing nations in 2019:
|Rank||Country||Coffee Imports (Tonnes)||Share of Total|
|9||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||0.18M||2.4%|
|10||🇷🇺 Russian Federation||0.18M||2.4%|
The U.S. is the largest importer of coffee beans in the world, bringing in 1.5 million tonnes of unroasted coffee beans in 2019, equivalent to 19.3% of all exports that year. While Brazil and Colombia are its biggest sources of coffee, beans imported from Asia and Central America also thrive thanks to a strong specialty coffee culture.
Europe is also a massive destination for coffee bean exports. Germany led the way with 14.2% of global coffee imports, while Italy accounted for 8.3%.
A brewing coffee culture in Japan has made the country a major player in the global coffee trade. In 2019, Japan was the fourth-largest coffee bean importer in the world and far and away the leading importer in Asia.
As the desire for coffee continues to permeate throughout the world, and as climate change puts a strain on coffee production (and vice versa), the flows of coffee beans are sure to change in the coming decades.
Maps5 days ago
Mapped: Which Countries Recognize Israel or Palestine, or Both?
Markets1 week ago
Visualizing 30 Years of Investor Sentiment
Technology1 week ago
Ranked: Largest Semiconductor Foundry Companies by Revenue
Misc1 week ago
Visualized: EV Market Share in the U.S.
Maps1 week ago
Interactive Map: The World as 1,000 People
Retail7 days ago
Ranked: Average Black Friday Discounts for Major Retailers
Business6 days ago
Ranked: Fast Food Brands with the Most U.S. Locations
Economy6 days ago
Visualizing 30 Years of Imports from U.S. Trading Partners