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Historically, flags primarily served as means of identification in warfare, but today, national flags are flown to represent a country both on the international stage and domestically.
Every flag incorporates design elements and colors that symbolize certain aspects of each country’s history and identity. And as you’ve likely noticed, many of them fall under similar color conventions or patterns, with the exception of a few rare outliers.
This visualization by Giulia De Amicis shows flags of 196 countries recognized by international standards, grouped according to the main design characteristics—color and pattern.
It includes 193 United Nations Member States, two permanent non-member observer states—Vatican City and Palestine, and Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy and an ex-member of the UN.
Most countries have flags in a quadrilateral shape—a four-sided polygon with four edges and four corners—mainly with a 2:3 or 1:2 aspect ratio.
In contrast, the flag of Nepal stands out with its unique layout. It consists of two triangular shapes with a white moon on the top and a white sun on the bottom section.

Flag of Nepal

The unusual flag’s design has at times caused difficulties for large-scale reproduction.
In the 2016 Summer Olympics, for example, the Nepalese flag was placed on a white rectangular cloth shaped the same as other flags.
By far, the most popular color used in national flags is red, with 20% of listed countries featuring it in their flag design. In vexillology—the study of flags—it is believed that red is a symbol of power, bravery, revolution, and vibrancy, as well as war in reference to past bloodshed.
Green comes as the second most used flag color with 15% of countries incorporating it, followed by black (14%), purple (12%), white (11.5%), light blue (11%), and blue (9.5%). Yellow was the least popular with just 7% of countries using it in their national flags.
Certain regions share a distinct mix of colors that neighboring countries have adopted. For example, red, white, green, and black are seen in several Arab nation flags. Similarly, green, red, and yellow combinations are often symbolic of Pan-African countries.
A simple tricolor design, in either a vertical and horizontal orientation, is the most frequent pattern with 68 countries displaying it on their flags. Stars follow with 40 country flags, while 29 flags had either a seal or stripes.
But there are many other flag designs to consider, such as the geometrical designs used by Cuba and South Africa, crosses like the Union Jack of the UK, and circles like those of Japan and South Korea. And not every flag fits one single design category, such as Pakistan’s white and green flag with a crescent and star, or the many flags that include a Union Jack within their design.
Symbolism ascribed to flag design can range from abstract to more literal explanations. The meaning of flag designs can change over time, too, often influenced by major political shifts.
Flag of China

For example, the red flag of the People’s Republic of China has one prominent yellow star, which used to stand for the Chinese Communist Party, while the smaller stars were previously associated with the four social classes making up the society. Today, the large star represents China itself, while the smaller stars stand for the country’s many national minorities.
In a similar manner, other nations have made changes to their flag designs to reflect major political changes, or people have ascribed their own revised meanings to the elements depicted in their country’s flag.
Which nation’s flag catches your eye? Are there any other flags that are memorable or unique but not featured on this list?
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist’s Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
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Today, 84% of the world’s population identifies with a religious group. Here we visualize the distribution of the major religions worldwide.
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The world has become increasingly more secular in the last few decades. However, religion remains an integral part of many people’s lives, and 84% of the world’s population identifies with a religious group.
The religious profile of the world is rapidly changing, driven primarily by differences in fertility rates and the size of youth populations among the world’s major religions, as well as by people switching faiths.
With the help of data from Pew Research Center, we break down the religious composition of the major religions in countries worldwide.
Determining the exact number of religions across the world is a daunting task. Many religions can be difficult to categorize or to tell apart for those not intimately familiar with their doctrine.
Pew Research Center organizes the world’s religions into seven major categories, which includes five major religions (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism), one category that broadly includes all Folk/Traditional religions, and an unaffiliated category.
Globally, Christianity has the largest following of these categories. Around 31% of the world’s population are Christians, closely followed by Muslims at 25%. Jews have the smallest population of major religions, with only 0.2% of the world identifying as Jewish.
Let’s take a look at the religious composition of the world when accounting for regions:
From Islam being the dominant religion in the Middle East to over 95% of Cambodians and Thais following Buddhism, here’s how prevalent every major religion in the world is.
The world’s largest religion, Christianity, is practiced by about 2.4 billion people.
The country with the highest number of practicing Christians is the United States, with a Christian population of 253 million. Brazil and Mexico follow closely with 185 million and 118 million Christians, respectively.
Map of the composition of Christianity around the world
Christianity has historically spread around the globe and today it remains a geographically widespread religion. Over the past century, it has become less concentrated in Europe while becoming more evenly distributed throughout the Americas, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region.
Even though it’s the predominant religion of countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa, by sheer number, countries in Asia have the highest percentage of practicing Muslims in the world.
It may surprise you to know that 14.2% of Indians are Muslim. As a result, the country is home to one of the world’s largest Muslim populations, surpassed only by Indonesia.
Map of the composition of Islam around the world
Islam is also the world’s fastest-growing major religion. The number of Muslims is expected to increase by 70%, from 1.8 billion in 2015 to nearly 3 billion in 2060. The fact that they have the youngest median age, at 24, also helps this population growth.
While Jews historically have been found all around the globe, Judaism is highly geographically concentrated today. More than four-fifths of all Jews live in just two countries: the United States and Israel. Israel is the only country with a Jewish majority, with 76% of the population being practicing Jews.
Map of the composition of Judaism around the world
The largest remaining shares of the global Jewish population apart from the U.S. and Israel are in Canada (about 3% of the country’s population), France (2%), the United Kingdom (2%), Germany (2%), Russia (2%) and Argentina (between 1% and 2%).
The religiously unaffiliated population includes atheists, agnostics, and people who do not identify with any particular religion. 720 million of the Chinese population consider themselves religiously unaffiliated, while 78% of Czechs feel the same way.
Map of the composition of Unaffiliated around the world
However, it is worth noting that many of the religiously unaffiliated hold some religious or spiritual beliefs. For example, surveys have found that faith in God or a higher power is shared by 7% of unaffiliated Chinese adults, 30% of unaffiliated French adults, and 68% of unaffiliated U.S. adults.
Hinduism is the third-largest religion worldwide, with approximately 1.2 billion Hindus in many countries. Interestingly, however, Hinduism is the dominant religion in only three countries, India with 79%, Nepal with 80%, and Mauritius with 48%.
Map of the composition of Hinduism around the world
Although Hinduism is rarely a country’s primary religion, it still enjoys a global presence. Many regions around the world support significant populations of Hindus, including the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, North America, and South America.
According to estimates, half the world’s Buddhists live in China. Still, they make up only 18% of the country’s population. Most of the rest of the world’s Buddhists live in East and South Asia, including 13% in Thailand (where 93% of the population is Buddhist).
Map of the composition of Buddhism around the world
Buddhism in Asia is a matter of both identity and practice. Scholars and journalists have documented that many Asian countries may engage in Buddhist practices without considering themselves part of any organized religion.
Folk religion is any ethnic or cultural religious practice that falls outside the doctrine of organized religion. Grounded on popular beliefs and sometimes called popular or vernacular religion, the term refers to how people experience and practice religion in their daily lives.
Map of the composition of Folk Religion around the world
As of 2020, an estimated 429 million people, about 6% of the world’s total population, were adherents of folk or traditional religions. Some notable folk religions include African traditional religions, Chinese folk religions, Native American religions, and Australian aboriginal religions.
Excited to get back to travelling the world? This infographic highlights the 10 most popular tourist destinations.
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On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization formally classified the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic. The resulting travel bans decimated the tourism industry, and international air travel initially fell by as much as 98%.
Almost two years later, travel is finally back on the table, though there are many restrictions to consider. Regardless, a survey conducted in September 2021 found that, as things revert to normalcy, 82% of Americans are looking forward to international travel more than anything else.
To give inspiration for your next vacation (whenever that may be), this infographic lists the 10 most visited countries in 2019, as well as three of their top attractions according to Google Maps.
Here were the 10 most popular travel destinations in 2019, measured by their number of international arrivals.
*Estimate | Source: World Bank
France was the most popular travel destination by a significant margin, and it’s easy to see why. The country is home to many of the world’s most renowned sights, including the Arc de Triomphe and Louvre Museum.
The Arc de Triomphe was built in the early 1800s, and honors those who died in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. In 1944, Allied soldiers marched through the monument after Paris was liberated from the Nazis.
visualizing design: 196 flags of countries around the world – visual capitalist
The Louvre Museum, on the other hand, is often recognized by its giant glass pyramid. The museum houses over 480,000 works of art, including Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
Art isn’t the only thing that France has to offer. The country has a reputation for culinary excellence, and is home to 632 Michelin-starred restaurants, the most out of any country. Japan comes in at second, with 413.
After seeing the sights in Paris, you may want to consider a visit to Spain. The country is the southern neighbor of France and is known for its beautiful villages and beaches.
One of its most impressive sights is the Sagrada Familia, a massive 440,000 square feet church which began construction in 1882, and is still being worked on today (139 years in the making). The video below shows the structure’s striking evolution.

At a height of 172 meters, the Sagrada Familia is approximately 52 stories tall.
Another popular spot is Ibiza, an island off the coast of Spain that is famous for its robust nightlife scene. The island is frequently mentioned in pop culture—Netflix released an adventure/romance movie titled Ibiza in 2018, and the remix of Mike Posner’s song I Took a Pill in Ibiza has over 1.4 billion views on YouTube.
If you’re looking for something outside of Europe, consider Mexico or Thailand, which are the 7th and 8th most popular travel destinations. Both offer hot weather and an abundance of white sand beaches.
If you need even more convincing, check out these links:
Under normal circumstances, hundreds of billions of dollars are spent each year by international tourists. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTCC), this spending accounted for an impressive 10.4% of global GDP in 2019.
Travel restrictions introduced in 2020 dealt a serious blow to the industry, reducing its share of global GDP to 5.5%, and wiping out an estimated 62 million jobs. While the WTCC believes these jobs could return by 2022, the emerging Omicron variant has already prompted many countries to tighten restrictions once again.
To avoid headaches in the future, make sure you fully understand the rules and restrictions of where you’re heading.
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