These maps have been around for a while but it’s still really interesting to see the distribution of the world’s wealth measured by GDP per capita. Basically a region’s wealth correlated with it’s population until the Industrial Revolution when Europe and North America took off. From 1500 to 2004, Asia and South Asia noticeably contract; Africa almost disappears altogether. From 1900 to 2004, Japan grows quite a bit. The forecast for 2015 sees China regain most of its former wealth, while Europe and America shrink a little. South America, a region that witnessed some of the most volatile demographic change, seems to ride the centuries out economically undisturbed. (The data here was run in 2006; it would be interesting to see how the great recession has altered the picture – though I doubt it has all that much.)
Changing the current maps to represent those who live on more than $200 a day and those who live on less than $2 a day gives a much different picture of wealth distribution. Suddenly China’s and India’s rehabilitation doesn’t look so sanguine – and the US looks shamefully (or victoriously, depending on your perspective) bloated. Sadly and predictably, Africa becomes very visible in the second map. These last two maps show data from 2002.
> $200/day: < $2/day: