Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Global socio-economic cartograms

As an Earth scientist I live and breath maps.

I recently came across the site Worldmapper, which has nearly 400 global cartograms of various metrics. A cartogram is basically a map that shows area re-sized according to the variable being mapped. Worldmapper metrics include things like immigration, wealth, resources, housing, health, disease, education, and many others.

For example, below is a map showing the global distribution of scientific research for 2001 (defined as the number of published scientific papers by authors living in that nation). Further analysis would obviously require the raw data (which you can get off this site as well), but viewing the results in a map form like this conveys a lot of information immediately. The United States, Europe, and Japan (that dark purple blog on the right) stand out as "big" areas while areas like Africa, Central America, and Southeast Asia are "small".

Another example shown below is a cartogram of crude petroleum exports. Note the big players: the Middle East, Venezuela, Mexico, Norway, and parts of Africa. Nations where imports exceed exports (e.g., the United States) are not shown.

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