This year’s New Teacher Subject Day organised by the Prince’s Teaching Institute took place at Altrincham Grammar School for Girls near Manchester. For the geography teachers the focus was on the topic of Geopolitics and Borders to which I contributed a talk about ‘The Power of Maps: A Cartographic Journey along the World’s Borders’ (see slides at the end of this page) and also organised a practical session where the participants learned to create their own cartogram. Related to the theme and linking to the content of my talk, this cartogram was an update of the Refugee arrivals map from 2015 using the latest data by UNHCR. The following map shows the number of refugee arrivals by sea in the Mediterranean in the first months of 2016 (as of March, 3):
In the final year of his presidency Obama’s vision of a nuclear-free world proposed in 2009 seems far from becoming a reality. Although the countries with the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons (Russia and the USA) reducing their inventory, a recent report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) states that China, France, Russia, and the UK “are either developing or deploying new weapon systems or have announced their intention to do so.” The state of the nuclear world therefore has changed very little in recent years, as SIPRI shows: “At the start of 2015, nine states — the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea) — possessed approximately 15 850 nuclear weapons, of which 4300 were deployed with operational forces. Roughly 1800 of these weapons are kept in a state of high operational alert.” The following cartogram shows who the nuclear powers are in the world:
While preparing a guest lecture at the University of the Aegean on the Greek island of Lesbos I looked for the most recent data about arrivals of refugees via the Mediterranean Sea. UNHCR states that in 2015 almost 900,000 people have arrived in Europe by sea which is higher than the total arrivals counted between 2006 and 2014. 3,500 people are reported dead or missing, which only shows the mere numbers behind the many personal tragedies happening in the Mediterranean. Not only the numbers went up considerably, but also the geographic patterns changed. While Italy used to be the hot spot of arrivals, this has now shifted to Greece where over 750,000 people arrived. Most of these arrivals come from Turkey, making the island of Lebos near the Turkish coast the first destination for the majority of people seeking refuge in the European Union. The following map shows the European countries resized according to the total number of Mediterranean sea arrivals in 2015:
55.25% of the votes cast at last week’s independence referendum in Scotland were ‘No’ according to the Electoral Management Board for Scotland (EMB), meaning that Scotland stays a part of the United Kingdom. While the results have been mapped all across the media (I recommend Olli O’Brien’s interactive map for that one), I haven’t come across and cartogram visualisation so far. So here we go…the missing map of the Scotland Independence Referendum 2014: The first two maps show a cartogram of the Scottish Local Government Areas resized according to the total number of votes cast at the referendum. The colours on top of the maps show the (remarkably high) turnout on the left map – apart from Glasgow (75%) and Dundee (78.8%) was above 80% in all areas, figures unseen in any democracies in recent years (compare this for example to the turnout at this year’s European elections or at last year’s general election in Germany). The map on the right shows the share of votes going to either side of the campaign:
World military spending for 2011 is estimated to be over $1.7 trillion at current prices, and has come to a relative stagnation after it has been steadily rising in recent years. As summarised on the Global Issues website, “the 15 countries with the highest spending account for over 81% of the total; The USA is responsible for 41 per cent of the world total, distantly followed by the China (8.2% of world share), Russia (4.1%), UK and France (both 3.6%).” The data cited here comes from the SIPRI Military Expenditure Database compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute who use publicly available data sources for its reports. Military expenditure is defined as “all current and capital expenditure on: (a) the armed forces, including peacekeeping forces; (b) defence ministries and other government agencies engaged in defence projects; (c) paramilitary forces, when judged to be trained and equipped for military operations; and (d) military space activities. Such expenditures should include: (a) military and civil personnel, including retirement pensions of military personnel and social services for personnel; (b) operations and maintenance; (c) procurement; (d) military research and development; and (e) military aid (in the military expenditure of the donor country). Civil defence and current expenditures on previous military activities, such as veterans’ benefits, demobilization, conversion and weapon destruction are excluded.”
SIPRI’s long term observations show how the decrease in military spending following the end of the cold war in the 1990s slowed down at the turn of the century, and has significantly been rising again over the last 10 years – now exceeding the levels of the 1980. A major impact on these figures has the revival of military spending in North America, as the regional breakdown of the data shows. Compared to that, the rise of Asia appears much less significant than one would expect, although the region is clearly gaining importance (see an interactive graphic of the data on the Guardian datablog).
The following cartogram uses the latest available figures of military expenditure from the 2012 update of the database, completed by own estimates for the missing countries. It shows the estimate absolute expenditure in current (2011) US$ for the year 2011: