Island Population Perspective

Continuing on with the story from the previous blog, my friend and I were also talking about how many of the immigrants in Australia came from different nations across the world and how different things are for them now. In general, the demographics from the different countries are so varied and we thought it would be interesting to do a comparative study.  This is not a comprehensive study – merely something of interest for us. Perhaps one day we will increase the scope. For this study we included the islands of Tasmania, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Iceland, New Zealand, Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Greenland. These were selected because they are of particular interest to us. We initially also included Papua New Guinea, but removed it because of various issues with the available data and its interpretation.
The story is really best told by a few graphs. I will let the graphs speak for themselves (for the most part), but first a word about the data. So, the data in this study comes from Wikipedia for the most part but, we did compare it with data from individual countries and the numbers are all in the right ballpark – good enough for our purposes.

This first graph shows the land masses.  From the previous blog we know that Madagascar is about a fourth the size of Greenland, so what’s up with the graph? We wanted to be fair so we considered the fact that Greenland’s interior is really uninhabitable. So we removed the areas which are (currently) covered with ice, leaving a smaller but still major inhabitable area. The rest of this story is told by the graph itself.

Not much explanation needed here – these are just pure population numbers.  But do take note of how these countries compare to one another.

This is the interesting graph – and the reason why we removed the ice sheets from the Greenland areas. But, even after we did that, Greenland’s population density is still too small to be statistically meaningful within this study. So, whereas Sri Lanka is the fifth largest island nation in this study and their population is the second largest, the population density is significantly larger. They are followed by Fiji with Madagascar coming in third.

So we wanted to represent these three data sets in one graph, just to get a normative perspective of what is really going on. And this is it. We normalised all the data to a weighted average in order to display them on this bar chart. It puts a lot of this discussion in a nice perspective. The graph tells the rest of the story.

Landmass Perspectives

Greenland Australia Madagascar

The other day, I was chatting with a friend who originally came from Sri Lanka.  A part of the discussion focused on how modern mapping tools have created the wrong perceptions about different countries and landmasses.  This blog is just sharing the story of that discussion.

The first part of the story has to do with the perception of the sizes of different land masses.  The best example to illustrate this is Greenland.
Now Greenland is a massive island, but projection issues has created the concept in people’s minds that it is really massive. Even if you know that the (Mercator) projection distorted it, you don’t really know how big it is relative to other Land Masses. The image on the right was created by grabbing the three landmasses from Google Maps at the exact same zoom level. Notice how Australia fits right into Greenland. And Madagascar almost disappears. Yet we know that
• Australia is about 7,692,024 km2
• Greenland is about 2,166,086 km2
• Madagascar is about 587,041 km2

In the next graphic we used a more appropriate projection to show the land masses in correct perspective.  Note how Greenland’s shape is completely different but the proportions are correct.  Greenland is only about four times bigger than Madagascar.