Visualizing Commodity Dependence

The Economist posted a cool, interactive graphic showing which countries are strongly dependent on commodities.  Here is a screenshot of the map. Definitely click on the real thing though so you can see the map more clearly and change which commodity you want to focus on.


In terms of overall commodities, it looks like Equatorial Guinea has the highest level of net exports per GDP of any country in the world at 75.8% (followed by the Republic of Congo at 58.6% and Angola at 53.8%).  Greenland is the most “balanced” country in terms of not being a net exporter or importer of commodities.  Somalia is by far the biggest net importer, at least as a percentage of GDP (37.5%).

Chinese names of European countries

Thanks to @Amazing_Maps for another great map.  This one gives translations of Chinese names for European countries.  They tend to be phonetic representations of their real names, but the results offer up some howlers.


Here are a couple of my favorites:

Sweden = Very Lucky Soldiers

Germany = Moral Land

Italy = Meaning Big Profit

Switzerland = Swiss Scholar

Greece = Hope December

France = Lawland

Where the pigs live

Fast Co. has a cool article up about where livestock live around the world, coupled with some very cool maps.

Here are some of my favorite tidbits from the piece:

“China has 750 million pigs, seven times the U.S. population.”  Not only that, but they mostly live on the East coast. Here’s a map of their distribution.



“Most U.S. chickens live in the south”



The maps, which were created by the International Livestock Research Institute, in Kenya, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, calculates livestock down to the square kilometer, which seems incredible.  Of course there are bigger reasons for mapping livestock than just finding out where US chickens live.  Tim Robinson, of the ILRI, notes that maps like this allow governments to react more quickly and efficiently to livestock-related viruses:

“The obvious use for such maps in the immediate future is to help target surveillance to areas most at risk, which could provide advance warning should the virus spread and allow authorities to move quickly to contain it.”

Click here to read more about the project and check out many more cool maps.



More map fun, African edition

Thanks to IncredibleMaps and @hofrench for this nice illustration of African empires before colonialism (click on the map for a much better view):



I’ve read about these empires a bit but I have a better understanding of the regions they spanned when when I see them laid out on the map in techno-color.

Fun with Maps, Part Deux

I put up a blog post a couple of weeks ago called Fun with Maps. In it I showed some very cool maps that give the viewer a great idea of where migration takes place.  I remarked at the end of the post that it would be nice to have these maps from a per-capita perspective instead of just the level of migration.

I’m now really glad I added that last sentence because I received an email the next day from Casey Cupps, a software developer who has started working on his GIS skills. Here are the incredible maps of outbound and inbound per-capita migration rates that he put together for Cherokee Gothic. Please click on the images for a much better view:




A huge thanks to Casey for all of the work he did.  If you are interested in talking to (or better yet, hiring) this talented man, here is his twitter address:

Fun with Maps









I’m teaching a Master’s level class for the first time this spring on Global Political Economy.  One of the sections we are going to cover is on immigration.  With all of Lant Pritchett and Michael Clemens’ great work on this topic, I actually have too much material for that section of the class.  I need to work to actually pare it down some.

Having said that, I do think I’ll add the following map to the syllabus.  It gives a very nice illustration of how big migration flows are across the world, much more so then just a bunch of numbers on their own. I’d like to have one in per-capita terms as well but this is a good start.


h/t Amazing_Maps


Colonialism Visualized

One of the first papers that I published came from my dissertation.  It was on colonialism and economic growth.  It surprises me how many researchers I get writing me desperately requesting my data on the identity of colonial powers and dates of independence in Africa.  It’s surprising because it is pretty easy to find online.  But I just came across an awesome map of Africa which illustrates this data better (or at least more attractively) than an Excel file.  I think I will just send this as a reply next time someone writes: (click the map for a better view)


h/t Amazing_Maps