Map of Wikipedia article-density by nation

Here's a fascinating heat map showing the number of geotagged Wikipedia articles by country. It's a map of the "known unknowns" -- areas where there are likely to be many articles still to write.

Mapping the Geographies of Wikipedia Content


  1. Anyone have any idea why Burkina Faso would be the only African country to have more than 1,000? I am fascinated and baffled by that.

  2. @2: I was going to ask that very same question. In sixth grade, I was the last kid who got to pick his country for our UN report, and ended up with (the then) Upper Volta. I think I got extra credit for entitling my report “Nothing Ever Happens in Ougadougou.”

  3. That’s an interesting map, but I think it should be per capita – that would make it much more insightful.

  4. Well, basically, people do write about what they know. I’m betting the majority of articles on a given country are written by people who live there. I’ve always assumed there would be no articles on Canada if no Canadians were writing them. So this probably says a great deal about access to technology in Africa. Also, is this just for the English Wikipedia? I’m thinking not, since Germany is second to the US in the map and the German Wikipedia is the second-largest (plus, I’m guessing certain events in the 20th Century have pushed the German numbers a bit). That Middle-Earth and Antarctica are better represented than most African nations really isn’t surprising, since both offer endless fascination to nerd types. But why does a relatively wealthy English-language nation like South Africa still fare badly?

  5. Pour le Burkina Faso, ne pas négliger l’impact de la culture: Le Festival international de cinéma FESPACO braque les feux de l’actualité sur ce Pays et le rend plus intéressant que d’autres aux yeux des internautes (le cyclisme aussi avec Tour international du pays) … Ces opérations entrainent développement économique, infrastructures touristiques, donc intérêt international … la stabilité politique y est aussi pour quelque chose.

  6. it’d be nice to see a similar one based on geolocation data for incoming edit ip address. or spatial distance between edit geolocation based on ip and article geolocation. etc.

  7. I’d really like to see this data plotted against number of internet users per country. I don’t see the results as a huge surprise when compared to, say, the Internet penetration map on Commons. The discrepancies with Internet penetration are more interesting.

    I’d expect to see a general effect of concentration or dispersion at each extreme: a certain critical mass per country will probably result in more geotags per user, and under that mass we’ll probably see very little geotagging. Above a certain mass, there will probably be a drop-off in growth, probably limited by total country area and/or population.

    1. I’d like not only to see the amount per internet connection, but even the number of articles per capita. The US is in the >50,000 range, but it contains 10 times as many people as Canada, which is in the 10K-25K range. so Canada might actually have a much stronger Wikipedia following, although there is no way to tell. Also, I’d like to see the real numbers rather than these vague ranges they choose to use. >50K could mean 1 million for all I know.

    2. “I’d really like to see this data plotted against number of internet users per country.”

      What I was thinking. Remember OLPC? I know there are quibbles (and maybe major problems), but the vision of the project is staggering. A laptop and internet access in the hands of every child on earth? My fucking god….

  8. Are these ALL the Wikipedia articles that are geotagged, or just all the ones on the English-speaking Wikipedia? The link just says it was a dump, but didn’t specify. And what the heck, geotags require latitude/longitude, so there are probably a number of articles on places that have geographic names, but no geotags, simply because nobody has bothered to put those in. In fact, I would also question any geotag that isn’t properly cited, because “creating” facts for Wikipedia (i.e., digging out your GPS on site) is a no-no according to the rules.

  9. Can someone now do a distortion map? I.e., showing land area proportional to wikipedia representation?

  10. I’m a little concerned that there are a negative number of articles for the world’s oceans.

    I’m less interested in pop density than article density. The US has a large number of articles, but that’s kinda meaningless because the US is *big*. Splitting it (and the other large areas) by state/county might be better. Even splitting the map into lat/long grid sections might, though better would be to split it into same-area triangles.

  11. If this map showed the number of articles per capita, the sparsely populated kingdom of Sweden would most likely kick some ass.

  12. Agree that articles per square mile would be more interesting than either this or per capita. After all, this is about geotagged articles, and so would be mostly articles about places, not people.

    Per internet user of course would be obviously good as well.

  13. Seems to follow the deployment of US Military Presence. Maybe Wikipedia is the open source CIA Factbook.

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