A map that might change the way you think about the world

By Jo Nova

Where do people live?

These marvelous spike maps mark out a 3D representation of the population density on each two-kilometer-square pixel of Earth’s surface. There are no outlines for countries, yet for the most part we can still see where the land meets the sea.

Credit goes to Alistair Rae, formerly a professor of urban studies and planning at the University of Sheffield. He used the EU’s population density data with the mapping tool Aerialod to create these glorious 3D maps.

And the map shouts “India”.

Population Spike Map, Global.

This is the global distribution of 8 billion people.  The abundance of South East Asia is undeniable, as is the emptiness of the Sahara and the vacancy of Siberia.  Antarctica is an invisible continent.

Australia and New Zealand are barely there. We can see how isolated Perth Australia is (where I live).

Spike Map of Perth Australia, in world map.

Annotated by Jo to show friends in the USA where the heck Perth is.

Hawaii and Auckland likewise, stand apart.

Most maps came from Alastair Rae on Twitter in 2020 or from the Visual Capitalist team which explains:

The height of each bar represents the number of people living in that specific square, with the global map displaying 2km x 2km squares and subsequent maps displaying 1km x 1km squares.

Fifty million people live in the zone that stretches from Washington to Boston.


60 million people live in the conglomerate spikes of Ghangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

Otherwise most people in China live in the river basins of the Yellow river and the Yangzte, and the central Sichuan basin.

The incredible Indo-Gangetic Plain where the Indus and Ganges flow, is in the foothills of the Himalayas. So much of human life is determined by the geography of nutrients and water flow.


The people of the United Kingdom like the South

Under no circumstances should anyone assume humans in the UK want more warmth and sunlight.

The people of Europe

From some angles the population appears more evenly spread — perhaps due to the age of the civilization.

Though from other angles, there is a remarkable spike at Paris, and a concentration on the rivers flowing from the Alps to the ocean — particularly the Po river of Northern Italy and the Rhine river

The incredible population divide of South East Asia and Oceania

Unlike previous maps the land areas below are shown under the spikes. Respectively, Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia have 26 million, 5 million and 280 million people. The Philippines has 109 million. Japan, 126 million. And China looms in the top left with possibly 1,400 million.

There are messages in this data, and we hope people are paying attention.

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via JoNova


April 16, 2023 at 11:31AM

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