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A map of the world that'll make you do *at least* a quadruple take.

Trust me, your eyes are fine. There's a reason this map looks the way it does.

This is a map of the world from Worldmapper that is weighted by wealth distribution. There's a lot going here, but here are some of the things that really jump out at me.


1. I live in the richest country in the world: the United States.

I also happen to live in one of the richest metropolitan areas (pictured below).

Image by Mital Patel, used with permission.

The U.S. may be bursting with wealth, but it's also the most unequal among advanced economies, with three-fourths of the country's wealth under the control of the richest 10%.

2. Africa is reduced to a shriveled sprig.

Image by Irene2005/Flickr.

The vast majority of the wealth in Africa is contained in just a handful of countries (although there are ~53 countries in Africa), which explains what looks like a death grip on the world's poorest countries in the sub-Sahara. Those poorer countries have been experiencing economic growth in recent years as the wealthy world throws money at their natural resources. But the mix of resource-richness and corruption makes for what some call a "resource curse" that can make inequality worse.

3. Europe has a lot of money too.

Image by Carsten Frenzl/Flickr.

The International Monetary Fund lists the European Union as the fifth-richest country group. And inequality is on the rise throughout the region, even in Scandinavian countries known for their more equal wealth shares.

4. Asia is dominated by three countries.

Image by Sthitaprajna Jena/Flickr.

On the map, China, Japan, and India all but swallow their neighbors as the second, third, and 10th largest economies in the world, respectively. And like their wealthy Western counterparts, all three countries are becoming more unequal over time.

5. Wealth distribution doesn't correlate with population distribution.

This is another of Worldmapper's maps of the world weighted by relative population. The world population is currently just over 7 billion. One-third of the world lives in two rich but increasingly unequal countries I've already mentioned: China and India.

Population growth, however, is highest in developing (read: extremely poor) regions of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. By 2050, the world population is projected to rise to 9.5 billion (a 33% increase over 36 years).

This may all seem like a confusing string of information, but the point is really simple: A growing population and rising inequality are a dangerous combination, and it can't just get worse forever.

Learn more: 12 diagrams that show why more equal societies almost always do better.

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