Total World Wealth, 2016


Wealth is a different concept than income. Income is what you earn with your labor (your job) and wealth is the assets you own minus your liabilities (or debt). Said differently, the accumulation of income and property passed from generation to generation over time is wealth. Income inequality has been growing in the United States over the past 30 years and is a hot button issue, but wealth inequality is a different and even more extreme situation – especially at the global level: The richest 1% of adults in the world hold 50% of global wealth, while the top 10% hold 85%!

The total wealth of the world is estimated to be $255 trillion dollars by Credit Suisse in 2016. Of this, $84 trillion (33%) was located in the United States. Other wealthy countries include: Japan $24 T, China $23 T, UK $14 T, Germany $12 T, and France $11 T. One way to picture this distribution is with the map above colored in three tiers – The US has 1/3 of world wealth, Japan-China-UK-Germany-France combined have 1/3 of world wealth, and the remainder of the world, some 188 countries, have 1/3 of world wealth.

What are the assets that make up this wealth? Real estate is a large fraction of the total. Numbers are difficult to find but of the $84 trillion dollars of wealth in the US, $27 T (32%) of the value was real estate (2014 estimate). Another large fraction is located in financial assets: ownership of stocks, bonds, etc. This market is also concentrated with stock exchanges in the United States or Europe representing 80% of the global allocation of mutual fund assets.

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China’s Population Density

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Only about 30 percent of China’s landmass is habitable with approximately 40% of it’s land covered by mountains (in the southwest) and an additional 25% deserts (in the northwest). The maps above display that 94% of China’s population lives on the eastern side of it’s territory. The map below displays the location of China’s deserts and arid regions.

China and India make of 40% of the world’s population and although this figure seems strikingly high, estimates from 1 AD indicate the China and India combined for 60% percent of world population back then! Anyone who has visited either country is aware that both have very high population density. For comparison, world population density is 140 people per square mile – India is about 10 times that with 1008 people per square mile (ppsm) and China is 370 ppsm. Given what we know about the geography of China, this density estimate is quite low and once discounting it’s uninhabitable land, China’s density is more around 1233 ppsm. (Given that about 25% of India’s land is uninhabitable, a more direct comparison would put India density at 1344 ppsm). For those interested, here is the population density for some other countries: European Union (UK included) 304 ppsm, United States 85 ppsm, Brazil 62 ppsm, Russia 21 ppsm, and Canada 9 ppsm.

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Historic Economic Power

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The chart above shows the percent of global economic power (defined as the weighted share of world GDP, trade, and net capital exports) for the top three countries in selected years ranging from 1870 to (projected) 2030. To me, the graph shows the decline in power of Britain from 1870 through 1950, the decline in power for the United States from 1950 through 2030 (although less quickly than Britain), and the rise of China from 2010 into the near future. What once was a European-centric world in the 1800’s is giving why to an East Asian-centric world in the 21 century with the rise of China and India. Side note: If the European Union is considered as a unified entity in the chart above, its scale and decline would closely match that of the US.

US Bombed Countries (Post 1945)

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Above is a map of countries the United States has bombed since the end of WWII. A small portion of China was bombed by the US during the Korean War when the US government did not recognize the “People’s Republic of China” as the legitimate government of mainland China. (that lasted up until the mid-1970’s).

Here is a complete list of countries bombed by the United States:

Korea and China 1950-53 (Korean War), Guatemala 1954, Indonesia 1958, Cuba 1959-1961, Guatemala 1960, Congo 1964, Dominican Republic 1965-66, Peru 1965, Laos 1964-73, Vietnam 1961-1973, Cambodia 1969-70, Guatemala 1967-1970, Grenada 1893, Lebanon 1983-84, Libya 1986, El Salvador 1980’s, Nicaragua 1980’s, Iran 1987, Panama 1989, Iraq 1991 (Gulf War), Kuwait 1991, Somalia 1993, Bosnia 1994-95, Sudan 1998, Afghanistan 1998, Yugoslavia 1999, Yemen 2002, Iraq 1991-2003 (US and UK regular bombings), Iraq 2003-present, Afghanistan 2001-present, Pakistan 2007-present, Somalia 2007-08, 2011, Yemen 2009, 2011, Libya 2011

World University Rankings

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The graphic above displays a world map distorted relative to the population of each country and has pink bubbles indicating the location of the top 200 ranked universities in the world. The relative size of the bubbles indicate that the university is located closer to the top of the rankings and vise versa for smaller bubbles. What is striking about this map is the inequality of top universities globally, with virtually all of the top 200 schools located in the developed world.

Further, the concentration gets even more extreme at the very top of the rankings. From the 2015 numbers, the top 50 universities in the world are located in just 12 countries. The United States has a huge advantage in premier universities with 25 of the top 50 and 10 of the top 15! The next closest on the list is the United Kingdom with 7 in the top 50 (3 of these 7 in the top 10 – Oxford, Cambridge, and Imperial College London).

North America, Europe, and Australia account for 45 of the top 50 universities in the world. The remaining 5 located outside the western world are: National University of Singapore (26th), Peking University (42nd), University of Tokyo (43rd), University of Hong Kong (44th), and Tsinghua University (47th).

Percent of Global GDP

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The graphic above displays the change in regional and country GDP as a fraction of global GDP from the period 1820 through 2012. The picture tells a story of the rise of ‘the west’ during the industrial revolution and the corresponding fall of the Asian world powers from 1820 through the mid 1900’s. Then following economic reforms in the late 1900’s, Asian giants re-emerging and gaining market share of global GDP corresponding with a fall by western powers.

In 1820, China and India together made up 49% of world GDP, but by the late 1970’s this figure had fallen to less than 5% combined. That is, China and India – countries that make up 37% of the world population, only accounted for 5% of world GDP. Since that time, China and India have had drastic economic growth and now account for 21% of global GDP.

The graphic also tells the tale of the United States emerging as a global super power. From 2% of global GDP in 1820 to a peak of 36% following WWII. In fact, the 36% of world GDP figure is the highest mark by any country in history – All this accomplished by a country with only 5% of world population. The stagnate economic growth since the 1970’s is comparable to Europe, although not quite as drastic. The US and Europe still account for 35% of world GDP combined.

Russian Military Bases Aboard

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Overseas military bases enable a country to conduct expeditionary warfare and maintain order in their respective areas of control. The vast majority of countries in the world are not powerful enough to exhibit influence outside their defined boarders – they have a difficult enough time maintaining order within ‘their’ country as is. In fact, there are only 9 countries that have a military base located outside their own territory. Further, most of these countries only have influence (bases) around countries that boarder them and are not much of a global force.

The map above displays the location of Russian military bases aboard. All of these are located in former USSR and other past communist allies. Russia has 9 bases located in another country’s territory, fourth most by a country in the world. Below is a list of the 9 countries that have bases located in other nation’s territory (note – this is not the number of total bases, but the number of countries that listed country has bases located in):

Japan – 1, China – 1, India – 2, Turkey – 4, Italy -5, Russia – 9, UK – 13, France – 14, USA – 63

Another way to look at this is:

All other countries combined – 47, USA – 63


Internet speeds

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As more of the economy and economic growth is intertwined with the internet – speed and connectivity are highly important to the success of countries in the 21st century. As displayed above, there is large disparities in internet access and connectivity speeds between countries in the developed world and in undeveloped areas.

In the 2015 Q3 ranking by Akamai, the top ten countries by average connection speed (in Mb/s) were: (1) South Korea 20.5, (2) Sweden 17.4, (3) Norway 16.4, (4) Switzerland 16.2, (5) Hong Kong 15.8, (6) Netherlands 15.6, (7) Japan 15.0, (8) Finland 14.8, (9) Latvia 14.5, and (10) Czech Republic 14.5.

In comparison to other developing countries in the world: Mexico ranks 68th at 5.5 Mb/s, China 91st at 3.7 MB/s, Brazil 93rd at 3.6 Mb/s, and India 116th at 2.5 Mb/s.

The United States is ranked 16th in the world by average connection speed at 12.6 Mb/s, slightly above average in the developed world. Although, the numbers are skewed in favor of small density connected countries without rural areas to bring the average down. The US average may be slower than some small dense northern European countries, but when compared the the European Union as a whole, the US is much faster – 12.6 Mb/s to 8.1 Mb/s.

If the US states where ranked individually, Washington D.C. would rank 2nd in the world in average internet connection speed, Delaware 3rd, Utah 6th, Massachusetts 7th, and Rhode Island 10th. As of 2014, the US state with the slowest average internet speed was Alaska at 7 Mb/s.

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World Legal Systems

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The legal systems of countries around the world can be said to fit generally into three distinctive categories – Civil law, Common law, and Sharia law. Civil law makes up the majority of countries in the world and is derived originally from Roman law and later the Napoleonic code spread by the French empire across Europe. Civil law can be described simply a law structure that is highly codified into a referable system. It leaves little room for interpretation from judges as each law should be referable to a previous statute.

In contrast to Common law, also know as case law or precedent law, is derived from the English legal tradition. Common law puts much more power into the hands of judges and their interpretation of the law over time.  These judge-made decisions create precedential authority to prior court decisions which bound the judge’s opinion to pervious court rulings. This legal system was spread by the British Empire to it’s dominions across the globe including: the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and is a hybrid system in many others.

Sharia law or Muslim law is present in muslim majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa. This legal tradition is derived directly from the Quran and was spread during Islamic Caliphate in 750 AD. The remaining parts of the world including most of the countries in Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia have some hybrid law system mixed between Civil, Common, Sharia, and Customary law. Refer to legend below for what category your country falls into.

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Country Executions

The United States is the only country in the western world to still retain the death penalty. It is also with the minority of the world – just 58 of 198 countries (29%) have used the death penalty in the last 10 years.

The chart below displays the top 25 countries ranked by executions over the past decade. China and Iran ‘lead’ in this category by a large margin. Iran has the distinction of having highest number of execution per capita. Meanwhile in China, the number of executions is officially unknown and regarded as a “state secret” – Estimates range from as high as 2500 to 5000 per year, more than the rest of the world combined!

The United States does not fair very well either – 5th in the world in executions with 350 since 2007.

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