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
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Unequal Elite: World University Rankings 2016/17

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Education and money undoubtedly go hand in hand. A closer look at the metrics that go into the creation of higher education rankings such as the Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings (THE WUR) proofs just the point that without adequate resources and funding global success can hardly be achieved. The following map which was created by analysing data of the 2016/17 World University Ranking data with regards to its spatial distribution of the most successful universities in this ranking. The map is a gridded cartogram which is reshaped to show national wealth, measured by gross domestic product. The land area in each country has been resized to reflect economic output. North America and Western Europe bugle to dominate this world map, while the entire continent of Africa virtually disappears. On this new world map, all the universities in the THE World University Rankings are plotted, with the larger, red dots representing world’s top 50 universities and the smaller circles representing the lower ranks:

Gridded cartogram projection of the THE World University Rankings 2016/17 showing GDP
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Country File: Mapping rural-to-urban migration

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Within the next five years rural living will have reached its climax. According to the United Nations World Urbanization Prospects (a biennial publication from the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs), rural populations will have reached their absolute high in 2022 with approximately 3.38 billion people. This is only slightly up from the current 3.37 billion people, showing how the number of people not living in cities has flatlined since the turn of the century and comes after a period of continuous growth since the 1950s when only 1.78 billion people lived in the countryside. The current long-term projections see this number going slightly down to 3.2 billion people by 2050.
While the rural population has become a minority globally (at approximately 46 per cent), the majority of those are increasingly concentrated in the poorer parts of the world. Sixty-nine per cent of people in the least developed countries live in rural areas, while this number is at only 20 per cent in higher-income countries.

Cartogram: Map of Global Rural Populations and Rural Population Changes
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EU Migration to and from the UK

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The recent UK government defeat on its Brexit bill by the House of Lords based on the demand that ministers should guarantee EU nationals’ right to stay in the UK after Brexit was just the latest tale in the debate about EU migration and the United Kingdom’s role in it. The topic of migrants in the UK was an important element of the EU referendum campaigns in 2016 which led to the decision to leave the European Union. The government’s position sees the question of the rights of EU migrants as part of the upcoming negotiations with the EU where also the rights of UK citizens living in the European Unions need to be agreed. In terms of absolute numbers, this is a much smaller share of affected people (approximately 1.2 million UK citizens are estimated to live in other EU countries) compared to other EU citizens living in the UK (estimated at around 3.2 million). The following two maps show these numbers in comparison in their geographical dimension. Using the most recent annual estimates (published in late 2016 by the ONS and further data from the UN) the cartograms show the countries of the EU (excluding the UK) distorted by the number of UK citizens who are living in another EU country (left map) and by the number of other EU citizens who are living in the UK. The countries are shaded by their ratio between the number of UK migrants in the EU and the number of other EU migrants in the UK:

Migration maps between the UK and the EU
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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
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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
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