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This visualisation illustrates the raw number of Internet users in each country as well as the percentage of the population with Internet access.


This map uses 2008 statistics from the World Bank, which has tracked the number of Internet users per country and the number of Internet connections per 100 people since the 1990’s as part of its Worldwide Governance Indicators project. The data are visualised with a cartogram in which the size of each country is drawn based on its proportion of global Internet users. The shading of each country reflects its Internet penetration rate: darker shades indicate higher levels of Internet usage amongst the population. Countries with online populations of less than approximately 2 million have been removed from the map.


We see that the map of the world’s online population presents an interesting picture of the locations of Internet users. China has the world’s largest total number of Internet users (there are currently over 400 million users in China) despite its relatively low penetration rate. The map also starkly illustrates the relatively small number of users in South America and Africa. The visualization causes South America to shrink to a size that is smaller than the United States, and Africa to skew unrecognizably on the map. We also see that there are very few countries in the Global South with high Internet penetration rates. This indicates future growth in the total number of Internet users will most likely come from areas that are currently underrepresented.

Visualization and analysis by Dr Mark Graham, Scott A. Hale and Monica Stephens in collaboration with Dr Corinne M. Flick and the Convoco Foundation.

This map is taken from the following publication: “Graham, M., Hale, S. A. and Stephens, M. (2011) Geographies of the World’s Knowledge. London, Convoco! Edition.”

Author(s): Dr Mark Graham, Scott A. Hale, Monica Stephens