Mapped: The State of Global Democracy in 2022 – Visual Capitalist

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map showing global democracy index measuring political regimes in 2022

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The world’s (almost) eight billion people live under a wide variety of political and cultural circumstances. In broad terms, those circumstances can be measured and presented on a sliding scale between “free” and “not free”—the subtext being that democracy lies on one end, and authoritarianism on the other.
This year’s Democracy Index report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), is one such attempt to apply a score to countries based on how closely they measure up to democratic ideals.
According to EIU, the state of democracy is at its lowest point since the index began in 2006, blamed in part on the pandemic restrictions that saw many countries struggling to balance public health with personal freedom.
In this year’s report, the EIU reported a drop of the average global score from 5.37 to 5.28, the biggest drop since 2010 after the global financial crisis. This translates into a sobering fact: only 46% of the population is living in a democracy “of some sort.”
Let’s dive a bit deeper into what this means.
In 2021, 37% of the world’s population still lived under an authoritarian regime. Afghanistan tops this list, followed by Myanmar, North Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Syria. Of course, China has a big share of the population living under this style of regime.
On the other side of the spectrum we have full democracies, which only account for 6.4% of the population. Norway tops this list, followed by New Zealand, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland.
Let’s explore the characteristics of each of the four types of regime according to the EIU:
Full democracies are nations where:
Flawed democracies are nations where:
Hybrid regimes are nations where:
Authoritarian regimes are nations where:
As mentioned earlier, in 2021, the global democracy score declined from 5.37 to 5.28. This was driven by a decline in the average regional score, but every region has a different reality. Let’s take a look at the democratic state of each region in the world.
North America (Canada and U.S.) is the top-ranked region in the Democracy Index with an average score of 8.36, but this dropped significantly from 8.58 in 2020.
Both countries have dropped their positions in the global ranking, however, Canada still maintains the status as a full democracy.
map showing democracy index measuring political regimes in north and south america
The U.S. is still classified by EIU as a flawed democracy, and has been since 2016. The report points to extreme polarization and “gerrymandering” as key issues facing the country. On the bright side, political participation in the U.S. is still very robust compared with the rest of the world.
Latin America and the Caribbean experienced the largest decline in regional scores in the world. This region dropped from 6.09 in 2020 to 5.83 in 2021. This decline shows the general discontent of the population about how their governments have handled the pandemic.
In this region, the only country that falls under a full democracy is Costa Rica. On the other side of the spectrum, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba fall under the authoritarian regime classification.
In 2021, Western Europe is the region with the most full democracies in the world.
In fact, four out of the top five full democracies are in this region: Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland. A notable downgrade in this region happened in Spain; the country is now considered a flawed democracy.
map showing democracy index measuring political regimes in europe
Eastern Europe paints a different picture, where there is not a single full democracy. Three countries (Moldova, Montenegro, and North Macedonia) were upgraded from being considered hybrid regimes to flawed democracies.
Ukraine’s score declined to 5.57, becoming a hybrid region. Russia’s score also declined to 3.24 keeping the authoritarian regime status. It’s important to note that this report by the EIU was published before the invasion of Ukraine began, and the conflict will almost certainly impact scores in next year’s report.
Sub-Saharan Africa has the most countries at the bottom of the Democracy Index rankings.
The fact is that 23 countries are considered “authoritarian regimes”. Meanwhile, there are 14 countries that are hybrid regimes, six countries under flawed democracy, and only one country, Mauritius, is considered a full democracy.
map showing democracy index measuring political regimes in africa
In North Africa, four countries are considered authoritarian regimes: Sudan, Egypt, Libya, and Algeria. Only Morocco and Tunisia fall into the hybrid regime classification.
This region concentrates a substantial number of countries classified as authoritarian regimes. In fact, the region’s overall democracy score is now lower than what it was before the start of the Arab Spring in 2010.
map showing democracy index measuring political regimes in the middle east
There are no countries falling under the category of full democracy in this region. Only Israel (7.97) and Cyprus (7.43) are considered flawed democracies. Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, and Pakistan fall under the category of hybrid regimes, and the rest of the countries in the region are considered authoritarian regimes.
This is broad region is full of contrasts. Aside from Western Europe, East Asia and Oceania contains the most full democracies: New Zealand, Taiwan, Australia, South Korea, and Japan. There are also a high number of countries that fall under the category of flawed democracies.
map showing democracy index measuring political regimes in east asia and oceania
It’s worth noting that some of the most contentious geopolitical relationships are between neighbors with big differences in their scores: China and Taiwan, or North and South Korea are examples of this juxtaposition.
Two years after the world got hit by the pandemic, we can see that global democracy is in a downward trend.
Every region’s global score experienced a drop, with the exception of Western Europe, which remained flat. Out of the 167 countries, 74 (44%) experienced a decline in their democracy score.
As pandemic restrictions continue to be lifted, will democracy make a comeback in 2022?
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Just how powerful are nuclear bombs? Here’s a look at the top 10 largest nuclear explosions.
Just how powerful are nuclear explosions?
The U.S.’ Trinity test in 1945, the first-ever nuclear detonation, released around 19 kilotons of explosive energy. The explosion instantly vaporized the tower it stood on and turned the surrounding sand into green glass, before sending a powerful heatwave across the desert.
As the Cold War escalated in the years after WWII, the U.S. and the Soviet Union tested bombs that were at least 500 times greater in explosive power. This infographic visually compares the 10 largest nuclear explosions in history.
After exploding, nuclear bombs create giant fireballs that generate a blinding flash and a searing heatwave. The fireball engulfs the surrounding air, getting larger as it rises like a hot air balloon.
As the fireball and heated air rise, they are flattened by cooler, denser air high up in the atmosphere, creating the mushroom “cap” structure. At the base of the cloud, the fireball causes physical destruction by sending a shockwave moving outwards at thousands of miles an hour.
anatomy of a nuclear explosion's mushroom cloud
A strong updraft of air and dirt particles through the center of the cloud forms the “stem” of the mushroom cloud. In most atomic explosions, changing atmospheric pressure and water condensation create rings that surround the cloud, also known as Wilson clouds.
Over time, the mushroom cloud dissipates. However, it leaves behind radioactive fallout in the form of nuclear particles, debris, dust, and ash, causing lasting damage to the local environment. Because the particles are lightweight, global wind patterns often distribute them far beyond the place of detonation.
With this context in mind, here’s a look at the 10 largest nuclear explosions.
In 1952, the U.S. detonated the Mike device—the first-ever hydrogen bomb—as part of Operation Ivy. Hydrogen bombs rely on nuclear fusion to amplify their explosions, producing much more explosive energy than atomic bombs that use nuclear fission.
Weighing 140,000 pounds (63,500kg), the Ivy Mike test generated a yield of 10,400 kilotons, equivalent to the explosive power of 10.4 million tons of TNT. The explosion was 700 times more powerful than Little Boy, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
Castle Romeo was part of the Operation Castle series of U.S. nuclear tests taking place on the Marshall Islands. Shockingly, the U.S. was running out of islands to conduct tests, making Romeo the first-ever test conducted on a barge in the ocean.
At 11,000 kilotons, the test produced more than double its predicted explosive energy of 4,000 kilotons. Its fireball, as seen below, is one of the most iconic images ever captured of a nuclear explosion.
iconic image of the castle romeo nuclear explosion of 1954
Test #123 was one of the 57 tests conducted by the Soviet Union in 1961. Most of these tests were conducted on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in Northwestern Russia. The bomb yielded 12,500 kilotons of explosive energy, enough to vaporize everything within a 2.1 mile (3.5km) radius.
Castle Yankee was the fifth test in Operation Castle. The explosion marked the second-most powerful nuclear test by the U.S.
It yielded 13,500 kilotons, much higher than the predicted yield of up to 10,000 kilotons. Within four days of the blast, its fallout reached Mexico City, roughly 7,100 miles (11,400km) away.
Castle Bravo, the first of the Castle Operation series, accidentally became the most powerful nuclear bomb tested by the U.S.
Due to a design error, the explosive energy from the bomb reached 15,000 kilotons, two and a half times what was expected. The mushroom cloud climbed up to roughly 25 miles (40km).
As a result of the test, an area of 7,000 square miles was contaminated, and inhabitants of nearby atolls were exposed to high levels of radioactive fallout. Traces of the blast were found in Australia, India, Japan, and Europe.
In 1962, the Soviet Union conducted 78 nuclear tests, three of which produced the fifth, fourth, and third-most powerful explosions in history. Tests #173, #174, and #147 each yielded around 20,000 kilotons. Due to the absolute secrecy of these tests, no photos or videos have been released.
Test #219 was an atmospheric nuclear test carried out using an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), with the bomb exploding at a height of 2.3 miles (3.8km) above sea level. It was the second-most powerful nuclear explosion, with a yield of 24,200 kilotons and a destructive radius of ~25 miles (41km).
Tsar Bomba, also called Big Ivan, needed a specially designed plane because it was too heavy to carry on conventional aircraft. The bomb was attached to a giant parachute to give the plane time to fly away.
The explosion, yielding 50,000 kilotons, obliterated an abandoned village 34 miles (55km) away and generated a 5.0-5.25 magnitude earthquake in the surrounding region. Initially, it was designed as a 100,000 kiloton bomb, but its yield was cut to half its potential by the Soviet Union. Tsar Bomba’s mushroom cloud breached through the stratosphere to reach a height of over 37 miles (60km), roughly six times the flying height of commercial aircraft.
The two bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had devastating consequences, and their explosive yields were only a fraction of the 10 largest explosions. The power of modern nuclear weapons makes their scale of destruction truly unfathomable, and as history suggests, the outcomes can be unpredictable.
The U.S. and Russia combined for 57% of all global arms transfers in the last decade. This graphic highlights their 50 biggest trade partners.
The increase in conflicts worldwide, including in Ukraine and the Middle East, has shifted global focus back onto arms transfers between countries.
For decades, countries proficient in arms manufacturing have supplied weapons to other countries in demand of them. At the helm of these trades are the U.S. and Russia, which have accounted for 57% of all international arms trades in the last 10 years.
So who are the largest importers of arms from these two countries, and what is the military value of these trades?
With the help of data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) arms transfer database, the above infographic by Ruben Berge Mathisen visualizes the top 50 biggest arms recipients by value for both the U.S. and Russia in the last decade.
The military valuation of arms is measured in terms of trend-indicator values (TIV). This valuation reflects the military capability of a particular item rather than its financial value.
Every weapon that falls under the conventional definition of major arms is allotted a TIV. The following are the most common weapons and components to be assigned a TIV.
Instead of focusing on budget, examining TIV makes it easier to measure trends in the flow of arms between particular countries and regions over time, essentially creating a military capability price index.
The United States is the largest exporter of arms globally, responsible for 35% of global exports over the last 10 years to about 130 nations.
Most recently, the biggest market for U.S. arms sales has been in the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia being the most prominent recipient of weapons. Over the last decade, the country has purchased 24% of total U.S. arms exports, with components worth over 18 billion TIVs.
Here is a look at the top 50 recipients of arms from the United States:

U.S. Arms Transfer Recipient Continent TIV (Millions)
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia Asia 18,641
🇦🇺 Australia Oceania 8,668
🇰🇷 South Korea Asia 7,207
🇦🇪 UAE Asia 7,190
🇯🇵 Japan Asia 5,026
🇮🇳 India Asia 4,614
🇬🇧 United Kingdom Europe 4,332
🇶🇦 Qatar Asia 4,235
🇹🇼 Taiwan Asia 3,789
🇹🇷 Turkey Asia 3,722
🇮🇶 Iraq Asia 3,532
🇮🇱 Israel Asia 3,460
🇸🇬 Singapore Asia 2,571
🇦🇫 Afghanistan Asia 2,547
🇪🇬 Egypt Africa 2,334
🇮🇹 Italy Europe 2,281
🇲🇦 Morocco Africa 2,281
🇳🇴 Norway Europe 2,196
🇳🇱 Netherlands Europe 2,060
🇰🇼 Kuwait Asia 1,900
🇨🇦 Canada Americas 1,806
🇵🇰 Pakistan Asia 1,070
🇮🇩 Indonesia Asia 982
🇲🇽 Mexico Americas 782
🇴🇲 Oman Asia 779
🇯🇴 Jordan Asia 675
🇩🇰 Denmark Europe 548
🇧🇷 Brazil Americas 510
🇸🇪 Sweden Europe 505
🇨🇴 Colombia Americas 472
🇵🇭 Philippines Asia 450
🇫🇷 France Europe 438
🇫🇮 Finland Europe 389
🇬🇷 Greece Europe 359
🇱🇧 Lebanon Asia 350
🇹🇭 Thailand Asia 342
🇵🇱 Poland Europe 336
🇨🇱 Chile Americas 335
🇪🇸 Spain Europe 292
🇷🇴 Romania Europe 275
🇹🇳 Tunisia Africa 251
🇩🇪 Germany Europe 221
🇧🇭 Bahrain Asia 187
🇵🇹 Portugal Europe 179
🇳🇬 Nigeria Africa 154
🇳🇿 New Zealand Oceania 150
🇧🇩 Bangladesh Asia 123
🇨🇭 Switzerland Europe 117
🇻🇳 Vietnam Asia 108
🇦🇷 Argentina Americas 103

The U.S. remains the biggest global exporter of weapons globally, however, sales of military equipment to foreign countries dipped by 21% over the previous fiscal year, dropping from $175 billion in 2020 to $138 billion in 2021.
Russia, the world’s second-largest arms dealer, was responsible for 22% of global arms exports between 2011 and 2021.
In terms of TIVs, India remains the biggest importer of Russian weapons by a wide margin. India’s dependency on Russian-made arms is driven by its fight to quell the military assertiveness of China on one side and its constant skirmishes along the Pakistani border on the other.
But despite the continued support of Russia and its President by the Indian Prime Minister, even in the wake of Russia’s war on Ukraine, some reports have shown that India has been looking elsewhere for arms in the last few years.
Let’s take a look at some of the other biggest importers of Russian arms around the world:

Russian Arms Transfer Recipient Continent TIV (Millions)
🇮🇳 India Asia 22,869
🇨🇳 China Asia 9,419
🇩🇿 Algeria Africa 7,235
🇻🇳 Vietnam Asia 5,554
🇪🇬 Egypt Africa 3,998
🇮🇶 Iraq Asia 2,015
🇦🇿 Azerbaijan Asia 1,967
🇰🇿 Kazakhstan Asia 1,841
🇻🇪 Venezuela Americas 1,743
🇸🇾 Syria Asia 1,729
🇧🇾 Belarus Europe 1,190
🇲🇲 Myanmar Asia 856
🇺🇬 Uganda Africa 611
🇦🇪 UAE Asia 578
🇦🇴 Angola Africa 501
🇮🇩 Indonesia Asia 490
🇮🇷 Iran Asia 476
🇧🇩 Bangladesh Asia 454
🇦🇫 Afghanistan Asia 441
🇵🇰 Pakistan Asia 437
🇦🇲 Armenia Asia 373
🇹🇷 Turkey Asia 344
🇹🇲 Turkmenistan Asia 307
🇷🇸 Serbia Europe 296
🇳🇬 Nigeria Africa 249
🇸🇩 Sudan Africa 244
🇵🇪 Peru Americas 221
🇯🇴 Jordan Asia 204
🇲🇳 Mongolia Asia 171
🇺🇿 Uzbekistan Asia 156
🇳🇮 Nicaragua Americas 121
🇱🇦 Laos Asia 118
🇰🇼 Kuwait Asia 113
🇧🇷 Brazil Americas 98
🇸🇸 South Sudan Africa 82
🇲🇱 Mali Africa 73
🇪🇹 Ethiopia Africa 69
🇹🇭 Thailand Asia 68
🇿🇦South Africa Africa 50
🇨🇲 Cameroon Africa 45
🇰🇬 Kyrgyzstan Asia 41
🇷🇼 Rwanda Africa 41
🇶🇦 Qatar Asia 40
🇱🇾 Libya Africa 36
🇧🇭 Bahrain Asia 31
🇹🇯 Tajikistan Asia 30
🇨🇾 Cyprus Asia 28
🇨🇬 Republic of the Congo Africa 27
🇬🇭 Ghana Africa 27
🇺🇦 Ukraine Rebels Europe 24

One relationship of significance is Russia’s provided weapons to Pro-Russia Ukrainian Rebels. Since 2014, Russia has offered arms and training to these rebels in their fight. These have included weapons of all sorts, from pistols and mines to tanks and missile launchers.
According to the latest data from SIPRI, the international arms trade fell by 4.6% in the last five-year period. Despite this, Europe has become a new hotspot for arms imports, seeing a 19% increase in arms transfers over the same time period.
Countries like the U.K., Netherlands, and Norway were the largest importers, and other countries might follow suit.
Experts claim that this upsurge is attributed to the crumbling relationship between Russia and Europe. Alarmed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, European countries have been reevaluating their defense budgets—as exemplified by Germany’s recent €100 billion commitment to boost its military strength.
In the coming years, the U.S. and Russia’s biggest arms transfer partners are likely to shift. But which way will arms transfers trend?
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