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

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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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Home Ownership in Britain

Housing has always been a decisive and sometimes divisive political issue. Home ownership has of course long been an aspiration for many people, and in the post-war period between 1953 and 1971 the number of households renting and owning reached an equal level, as documented in official census statistics for England and Wales. Ownership then surpassed renting, reaching its peak in 2001 at 69%. In the decade that followed, this number went down to 64%. The following two maps show the ownership rate in the UK in a conventional and an equal population projection:

Cartogram and map of home ownership in the UK
(click for larger version)

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Nuclear Energy and Risk

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Nuclear power contributes only a small share to the global energy production. According to the World Energy Statistics 2015 published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) nuclear power accounts for 4.8% of the total primary energy supply worldwide, far behind oil (31.1%), coal (28.9%), natural gas (21.4%) and even behind biofuels and waste (10.2%).
Of the producers of nuclear power, the United States are by far the largest with 33.2% of the world’s total, followed by France (17.1%) and Russia (7.0%). The United Kingdom’s production accounts for 2.9%. In contrast, France generates the largest share of its domestic electricity generation from nuclear power (74.4%). It is followed by Sweden (43.4%), Ukraine (43.0%) and South Korea (25.8%), while the United Kingdom comes fifth with 19.2%.

Cartogram of Nuclear Power Plants in the World
(click for larger version)

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Out of Africa: Humanity’s Journey around the Planet

It took a long time for humankind to move out of Africa and inhabit the rest of the planet. Archaeological research and genetic studies based on fossils found in plains of east Africa suggest that modern humans evolved nearly 200,000 years ago. Palaeontological findings and genetic footprints are also the basis for current theories of how modern humans (Homo sapiens) started spreading around the globe. Such models and timings keep changing, with new discoveries being made on a fairly regular basis.
The below map illustrates the migration of humanity across the Earth with all movement originating in Africa and with the estimated dates of arrival shown at key directions and locations. The dates are based on a number of scientifically validated estimates. They build upon the ‘Out of Africa’ model that assumes the spread of modern humans from their African origins across the globe, superseding any other human species that had lived in parts of the planet before (and sometimes as) Homo sapiens arrived.

Map of Human Migration
(click for larger version)

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