A brief geography of time

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Sometimes referred to as the fourth dimension, time has a highly geographical relevance. For human geography, population sizes can have as much impact on the ‘tempo of places’ as culture or even climate. In physical geography, the concept of time is indispensable for an understanding of how the natural environment has changed and keeps changing.
In the 21st century, time has been described as being a commodity itself, affecting everything from manufacturing and trade, to financial flows and global transport links.
The general geographic distribution of time zones is based on the general concept of dividing the world into zones of equal time following a 24-hour day around the world. In theory, this means that there are 12 time zones of 15° width in which each differs by one hour’s time difference.
The necessity of time zones was closely linked to growing needs of transport and communication links during industrialisation. British railway companies began adopting Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) which helped to coordinate timetables. In 1880, GMT became standard across Britain and time differences of tens of minutes between cities in the country started vanishing. At a global level, time zones became established in the first decades of the 20th century.

Population Cartogram of Time Zones
(click for larger version)

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Britain elects: The changes

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Nothing has changed” was the infamous quote made by Theresa May during this year’s UK election campaign over a policy u-turn. This marked the beginning of a reverse of the Conservative support in the polls which eventually led to the changes that changed the political geography of the United Kingdom significantly when compared to the just as surprising result of the 2015 election. The following map uses the same approach as the previous map series showing the winning party in each constituency, but adds further detail to the picture by also highlighting how seats have changed between the last and this election:

Gridded Population Map and cartogram series of the UK General Election 2017
(click for larger and labelled version)

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Britain elects: The results (summer edition 2017)

The United Kingdom went to the polls…again. Following the general election in 2015 and the referendum on the country’s membership in the European Union in 2017, the British electorate had yet another chance to have their say about the country’s future. After the then prime minister David Cameron delivered referendum which he had promised to win the 2015 election, the British electorate voted for leaving the European Union by a small majority of 51.9% which led to Cameron’s resignation. Theresa May took over leadership of the Conservative party and became Prime Minister in July 2016. After first resisting calls for a general election, she eventually decided otherwise in the expectation of strengthening her conservative majority during the Brexit process. However, the election on June, 8th led to the opposite. The Conservative party lost its majority in parliament with the Labour party making significant gains. The following map series shows the result of the election from three perspectives. The conventional map (left) provides the most common perspective, while the hexagon-map gives a clearer picture of the distribution of parliamentary seats where each seat is represented by a hexagon (middle, changes in constituencies results in some hexagons being split). The gridded population cartogram (right) provides the most accurate depiction of how many people are represented by each party, as it gives each person in the UK an equal amount of space (while constituencies vary sometimes significantly in their population size):

Gridded Population Map and cartogram series of the UK General Election 2017
(click for larger and labelled version)

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French Presidential Election 2017

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The second (and decisive) round of this year’s French presidential election has led to a decisive victory of Emmanuel Macron of the social-liberal En Marche! party which was founded just a year before. Unlike other recent votes that have reached global attention, this vote was not close and was widely described as a sweeping victory. Macron secured 66.1% (20,743,128) of the second round votes against Marine Le Pen of Front National who received 33.9% (10,638,475) of the votes. Another difference was also the political message which did less resonate with nationalist or far-right rhetoric but was built on a pro-European and liberal campaign. 11.52% of the voters gave neither of the two candidates their vote by handing in blank or null ballots. Turnout was at 74.46%, only slightly lower than in the first round (77.77%) where none of the 11 candidates could secure an overall majority (Macron received 24.01%, Le Pen 21.30% which put them in the second round).
The following cartogram shows how decisive the political landscape of France in the second round of the election including the winning candidate’s vote share at municipal level (commune) in an equal-population projection, complemented by a normal map showing the overall distribution of winning votes at the same geographical level:

Gridded Population Cartogram of the French Presidential Election 2017
(click for larger and labelled version)

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(Un)Happy Nations

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March, 20th is the United Nations’ International Day of Happiness, recognising ‘the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world’. Bhutan is credited as the first country to have implemented the concept of ‘Gross National Happiness’ as an official measure for the state of a nation, introduced in 1972. After the global financial crash in 2008, ideas about giving the ‘spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of [people] and natural environment’ more prominence over mere economic development are reflected more and more in international efforts towards a sustainable future.
The Happy Planet Index (HPI), developed by the New Economics Foundation, takes a rather radical approach on this issue. It aims to measure well-being and happiness by taking a universal and long-term approach to understanding, how efficiently people in a country are using their environmental resources to live long and happy lives.
This cartogram maps the results of the 2016 Happy Planet Index from the perspective of people. The gridded population cartogram shows the world resized according to the number of people living in each area, combined with the national HPI score:

Cartogram Map of the Happy Planet Index
(click for larger version including additional detail)

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Connecting people: A world map of undersea cables

Despite satellite technology, global communication heavily relies on undersea cables to keep people connected. “A submarine communications cable is a cable laid on the sea bed between land-based stations to carry telecommunication signals across stretches of ocean.” (Wikipedia) Undersea cables are the backbone of the internet, so that being connected determines a region’s ability to participate in global communication flows.
The following cartogram shows data from Greg’s Cable Map reprojected onto an equal population projection, giving a perspective of how people rather than land areas are connected to the global communications infrastructure. Landing points where the cables connect to land are marked as red dots in the map, while the background also shows very faded shipping lanes (over sea) as well as the gridded cartogram projection (over land):

Cartogram of undersea cables shown on an equal-population projection
(click for larger version)

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