Flow of International Trade (Map)

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Trade is an essential part of economic prosperity, but how much do you know about global trade?

Today’s visualization helps to map international trade on a 3D globe, plotting the exchange of goods between countries. It enables the abstract concept of trade to become more tactile, and at the same time the visuals make it easier to absorb information.

EXPLORING THE MAP
The great thing about interactive maps is that they allow you to take control.

Here are a few things we found particularly interesting, as we scanned through the map:

When looking at the globe as a whole, trade is concentrated into obvious hubs. The United States, Europe, and China/Japan are the most evident ones, and they are all lit up with color.
There are also obvious have-nots. Take a look at most of the countries in Africa, or click on an individual country like North Korea to see a lack of international trade.
In fact, North Korea is completely vacuous, except for one lonely dot floating to China every so often. After taking a quick look at the data, it seems China takes in over 60% of North Korea’s exports, which are mostly raw materials such as coal, iron ore, or pig iron.
Now click on South Korea, and the situation is completely different. By the way, South Korea exports $583 billion of goods per year, while the hermit nation does just $3.1 billion per year.
This map also shows how dependent some countries are on others for trade. Look at Canada, a country that sends close to 75% of its exports to the United States. Mexico has a similar situation, where it does most of its business with the U.S. as well.
This is a stark contrast to Cuba, which doesn’t trade enough with any one partner to have it visualized on this scale at all. Cuba has exports of only $1.7 billion, and its largest trading partner is China, which only takes in $311 million of goods per year.