Perhaps not normally the kind of thing I review, but I’ve been browsing the State of the World Atlas over the last couple of days. It is a ‘survey of current events and global trends’, and draws on ‘world level statistics, expressed visually as far as possible’.
The result is an intriguing overview of the world and the problems it faces, all presented in bright, innovative maps and graphs. To give you a better idea, I’ve added a couple of sample spreads from the Earthscan site below.
There are sections on wealth and equality, urbanization, energy, war, health, biodiversity, all sorts. Each page has new things to notice. The whole of South America has a huge inequality problem. Over 90% of phones are mobiles right across Africa. Over 60% of adults in Kazahkstan, China and Yemen smoke. The number of armed conflicts in the world seemed to peak around 1993, and has been on a slow downward trend ever since.
If you’re doing serious research you’ll need something more specific than this, but as a snapshot of our world, this is a great book. Keep one on your coffee table.
Here’s a world map by population, with the colours showing percentage change.
And political systems, green being democracies, one party rule in turquoise, monarchies in purple and failed states in red.