The Map That Will Change The Way You See The World

How do you view your country relative to others? Chances are if it’s based on most world maps, your view is distorted.

As the world turns its gaze to the rich and pretty people in Davos this coming week, The World Economic Forum unleashed the following cartogram, created by Reddit user TeaDranks, that could change your entire perception of the world. Cartograms scale a region’s geographic space according to a particular attribute and in this case each square now represents 500,000 people.

(click image for massive legible version)


We all know that India and China have large populations, but this map emphasises their size on a global scale. Compared to conventional world maps, the two Asian powerhouses dominate. Along with several East Asian neighbours – Bangladesh, Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia – their contribution to the global population is clear.

The size of Nigeria and Brazil compared to the rest of Africa and Latin America is equally apparent.

The map also effectively highlights the contribution of cities and regions to total populations. For example, the greater Tokyo region accounts for a significant proportion of Japan’s overall population. Equally, Delhi, Shanghai and Mumbai all occupy areas larger than many European nations.

At the other end of the scale, some economies which are barely visible on traditional world maps appear much larger on the cartogram. Consider the cases of Hong Kong and Taiwan, whose relatively large populations compared to their geographical sizes see them feature much more prominently.

Conversely, some countries which are very large on conventional maps can barely be seen. Canada, Russia and Australia are much smaller in TeaDranks’ representation, which was inspired by Paul Breding’s 2005 work. Canada in particular disappears almost entirely.