This Map's Red and Blue Regions Each Contain 5% of the World Population

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The remaining 90%, of course, inhabit the regions colored white. (That’s how math works!)


The map above was created by data cruncher Max Galka using QGIS, a free, open source, all-purpose mapping tool. According to him, the map is an amended version of another chart first created by redditor Ibisdigitalmedia. “The original map turned out not to be entirely correct (the red region covered only about 3% of the world population),” he says, “so I made this one from scratch based on the same concept.” (For the cartography nerds: Galka says he used a Miller Cylindrical Projection, “because I see it as the closest to the way people are used to seeing the world. Since there are no country borders, I wanted to make the land areas as recognizable as possible.”)

Galka tells io9 the majority of the territories that fall within colored regions are entire countries. For those, he says, “the population figures are from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook.” In a few cases, however, “only select states / provinces of a country are included in the colored areas. Those population figures were pieced together from various sources.”

The map, Galka says, highlights the global extremes of population density. He gave us some of his thoughts, via e-mail:

What I find most interesting is that such a dense population center can be in a area that has so little global prominence. Bangladesh is the 7th most populous country in the world, but how many people could even locate it on a map?

Another thing I have found interesting is that many people seem to view the map from the perspective of overpopulation / overcrowding, or as a political message about inequality between the developed and the developing world.

If anything, I see South Asia’s dense population as a positive thing. It is very efficient economically, socially, and environmentally for people to live in dense population centers. And a movement out of rural areas into cities is trend that is happening everywhere in the world, even in India and Bangladesh. So in that sense, they are ahead of the curve.

The cities there do have problems with the infrastructure not being able to keep up, but if people are choosing to move there anyway, it tells me that the economic opportunities of living with lots of people outweigh the problems.

If you want to play with the data yourself, it’s available in CSV format on Galka’s website.

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While still powerful, this map would be a lot more accurate if it provided a better projection map of the world that didn’t make it look like Greenland had more people than Africa while being almost as large...