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Facebook: Mapping the World’s Friendships

Today we launched “Mapping the World’s Friendships,” a project visualizing the degree of interconnectedness between Facebook’s hundreds of millions of members as part of Facebook’s new Storiesinitiative.

Countries are sorted by a combination of how many Facebook friendships there are between countries, and the total number of Facebook friendships there are in that country. Turns out this number can tell you some pretty interesting things about not just where a country is now, but where it’s been. The Marshall Islands shows strong results in the immediate geographic area — Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji — but the number one result is to the United States, over 4600 miles away, since the islands were occupied by the United States until 1986:

The U.S. occupied the Marshall Islands from 1944 until 1986, and 10 percent of the islands’ residents hail from the U.S. The top destination for Marshallese immigrants is the United States, where they mostly reside in Hawaii, Oregon, California and Arkansas.

Coloring the circles by the predominant language spoken there (the example above has them colored by which continent they’re on, for clarity) provides another kind of insight. Clicking on Haiti makes it “easy to explore French colonization in this view, since you can see at a glance which countries speak primarily French.”

We get a similar kind of grouping between Peru, Argentina and Spain, which of course makes sense because yum, paella:

The relationship between Angola and Portugal, on the other hand, needs a little more digging to make sense:

“With the economic downturn in Europe at the end of the first decade of the 2000s, Angola became Portugal’s lead export market. As many Portuguese companies shifted operation centers, Angola saw a wave of of Portuguese immigration with more than 23,000 immigrants in 2009 — a substantial change from just 156 Portuguese immigrants in 2006.”

And the one that really jumped out at us as being much more about recent geopolitical events than any long-standing cultural or linguistic affinities was the tight link between Sweden and Iraq:

Sweden has taken in more Iraqi refugees than the United States. One town alone, Södertälje, dubbed “Little Baghdad”, has accepted 6,000 Iraqis since 2003.

Published: 09.11.12
Updated: 09.20.22

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Stamen is a globally recognized strategic design partner and one of the most established cartography and data visualization studios in the industry. For over two decades, Stamen has been helping industry giants, universities, and civic-minded organizations alike bring their ideas to life through designing and storytelling with data. We specialize in translating raw data into interactive visuals that inform, inspire and incite action. At the heart of this is our commitment to research and ensuring we understand the challenges we face. We embrace ambiguity, we thrive in data, and we exist to build tools that educate and inspire our audiences to act.