How flags explain the world

Via Lee Sigelman, a brilliant collection of maps used to display quantitative information:

United States

Burkina Faso

European Union

The artist is Icaro Doriaa, a talented young Brazilian with the magazine Grande Reportagem in Portugal.

UPDATE: Tim Ogden of Beyond Philanthropy writes in with some questions about the data behind these flags:

I thought the flags were really cool too -- then I started thinking about the numbers behind them. While I have not doubt that some are accurate several flags caught my attention as being dubious:

1) Brazil: the flag indicates that a huge percentage of the population is living below $10/month, which would be well below the $1/day threshold. According to Globalis sourcing the "UN Common Database (WB)" the population of Brazil living at that level in 2001 was 8.17%. Since Brazil has experienced quite rapid growth since then, one can only presume that this figure has fallen since then. The flag would indicate that the figure would be above 30%.

2) Burkina Faso: According to the WHO, the under-5 mortality per 1000 live births is 192. A tragically high number to be sure, but nowhere close to the figures that one would guess at from the flags. [...]

Just looked up the numbers for Angola to determine that there really is a problem:

According to WHO, malaria infections is 2002: 1.5 million
According to UNAIDS, HIV infections in 2005: 240,000

According to flags, 1.5 million = 240,000

It's still a cool idea, though.


Morning Brief, Friday, February 15

Darren McCollester/Getty Images

2008 U.S. Elections

Tidbits: Mitt Romney endorsed John McCain. Civil rights leader and superdelegate John Lewis is considering switching his support toward Obama, who may also pick up the SEIU endorsement today in addition to that of the United Food and Commercial Workers. Hillary Clinton won a delegate in New Mexico. Obama and Clinton have very similar economic policies.

Qui bono? examines which funds could benefit under a Republican or Democratic president.


Russian president-to-be Dmitri Medvedev wants to reduce the state's role in Russia's economy.

Russia reiterated a threat to recognize breakaway provinces of Georgia if Western countries recognized Kosovo. Serbian president-elect Boris Tadic, who will be sworn in today for a second term, is vowing to keep Kosovo.

France admitted providing munitions, intelligence, and logistical support to Chadian President Idress Déby, who turned back a rebel assault on his capital earlier this month. Déby has since declared a state of emergency.


Thousands have taken to the streets of Manila to call for the ouster of Philippine President Gloria Arroyo.

Four U.S. Marines have been charged with raping a Japanese woman in Okinawa.

Australian PM Kevin Rudd pledged "absolutely rock-solid" support for East Timor's government following an assassination attempt on President Jose Ramos-Horta.

The arsonist who destroyed Korea's top cultural treasure said he is sorry.

Middle East

The U.S. government agreed to turn over intelligence data on Iran's nuclear program to international inspectors.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to visit Iraq for the first time in March.

John McCain's son, a Marine, has returned from Iraq.


U.S. President George W. Bush is beloved in Africa, a continent in which he has invested considerable energies.

Kenya is "in the throes of ethnically segregating itself," the New York Times reports. The good news? The parties may be on the verge of a deal brokered by Kofi Annan.

The dollar fell against the euro after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke signaled a coming rate cut in "bleak" testimony to Congress about the U.S. economy. Bernanke's predecessor, Alan Greenspan, think the country is "on the edge" of recession.

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is refusing to schedule a vote on a bill to expand the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Scientists discovered a solar system that resembles our own.

Today's Agenda

  • Hillary Clinton is in Ohio, where she says, "The people of Ohio get me." Mike Huckabee, John McCain, and Barack Obama are campaiging in Wisconsin.
  • After a morning chat with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, President Bush heads for Africa on a trip that includes visits to Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, and Liberia. Bush has, however, vowed to delay his trip over the FISA bill.

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