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.

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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Energy Independence

Over the next several decades, many countries oil and gas dependence will grow as their nation’s economy expands. South Korea and Japan (in the upper right counter) are both already highly dependent on energy imports and will continue to remain so in the near future. Meanwhile in Europe, the persistent lack of economic growth is expected to lessen the upward trend in energy imports in the near term.

Developing Asia (China, India, and ASEAN) will see massive growth in oil and gas imports over the next 25 years as displayed by the drastic ‘up and to the left’ movement on the graphic below. One glaring outlier in the world energy picture is the United States —  who is currently undergoing a complete energy transformation due in large part to the break through technology of ‘fracking’. The United States will move from being the world’s largest energy importer to a net energy exporter!

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Source: The Economist