96 - A Cartogram of the World's Population

population1024×512.png


This map is part of a series of cartograms in which the actual geography is distorted in order to demonstrate information about the countries shown. In this case, the point made is that of population, with each country’s size ‘weighted’ to reflect the size of its population. The discrepancies between your average standard world map and this one are obvious – obviousness being a good indicator of how good a map is.

For example: on a normal world map, Australia (7,7 million sq. km) would dwarf Indonesia (1,9 million sq. km). Yet the opposite happens here. Oz might be big, but it’s a Big Empty, holding no more than 20,5 million people (2006 est.) Meanwhile, the emerald archipelago to Australia’s Near North is teeming with 223 million people (2005 est.), enough to fill eleven Australias. That imbalance is reflected well in this map. Australia almost drowns in the ocean, just like that other sparsely populated ‘western’ outpost in the far east, New Zealand.

A similar reversal of roles exists between Russia (17 million sq. km, 142 million inhabitants) and China (9,6 million sq. km, 1,3 billion inhabitants). The population map reduces Russia to a thin sliver of land, insignificant compared to the giant that is China, which dwarfs just about any country far or close by, except India. Together, these two Asian countries account for fully one third of the world’s population. Incidentally, the number of Indians is slated to surpass China’s population later this century.

The map similarly illustrates Canada’s relationship with its ‘bigger’ neighbour to the south. Elsewhere, regional dominances become more apparent also. Ethiopia, currently actively supporting one side in the Somali civil war (if one can call it that) dominates eastern Africa, Nigeria is by far the larger country of western Africa – in fact, the largest of all of Africa, larger than Sudan, which is huge and empty. The preliminary results of last year’s Nigerian census seem to indicate a population of about 140 million people, indeed surpassing by far Africa’s second most populous nation, Egypt.

This map also allows for quick ‘guesstimates’ of which countries have an equally large population. The matches can be instructive and surprising. France and Egypt seem about the same size, as are Germany and Ethiopia. Ireland is more or less the same size as Haiti.

Several visitors to this blog pointed me to this series of ‘distorted’ maps, which are the result of a collaboration between the universities of Sheffield (UK) and Michigan (US) and can be seen on this page of the Daily Mail newspaper, under the heading ‘How the world really shapes up’. Other map distortions reflect:

alcohol consumption (Western Europeans drink a third more than average, but Ugandans are the world champions);
HIV prevalence (Africa is oversized in this map);
house prices (Europe, and especially Britain are oversized);
military spending (the US takes up 45% of the ‘land mass’ in this map);
war deaths (DR Congo accounts for 27%);
toy imports (US at one, followed by Britain and Europe);
and toy exports (with a huge Hong Kong attached to a giant China).

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Saying no is hard. These communication tips make it easy.

You can say 'no' to things, and you should. Do it like this.

Videos
  • Give yourself permission to say "no" to things. Saying yes to everything is a fast way to burn out.
  • Learn to say no in a way that keeps the door of opportunity open: No should never be a one-word answer. Say "No, but I could do this instead," or, "No, but let me connect you to someone who can help."
  • If you really want to say yes but can't manage another commitment, try qualifiers like "yes, if," or "yes, after."
Keep reading Show less

Apparently even NASA is wrong about which planet is closest to Earth

Three scientists publish a paper proving that Mercury, not Venus, is the closest planet to Earth.

Strange Maps
  • Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbor must be planet two or four, right?
  • Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
  • Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbor is... Mercury!
Keep reading Show less

Why is 18 the age of adulthood if the brain can take 30 years to mature?

Neuroscience research suggests it might be time to rethink our ideas about when exactly a child becomes an adult.

Mind & Brain
  • Research suggests that most human brains take about 25 years to develop, though these rates can vary among men and women, and among individuals.
  • Although the human brain matures in size during adolescence, important developments within the prefrontal cortex and other regions still take pace well into one's 20s.
  • The findings raise complex ethical questions about the way our criminal justice systems punishes criminals in their late teens and early 20s.
Keep reading Show less