Africa rules the world

Inspired by Worldmapper, Fedex and its ad agency, BBDO, have created a "Changing World" site with a collection of cartograms driven by data from the Economist Intelligence Unit and content from the EIU and The Economist. (Full disclosure: I've been involved in the project since last summer.) This blobby cartogram showing the 2008 changes in GDP by country is a bit dated, but it's still striking how much Africa dominates the world in terms of explosive growth. Talk about regional differences: The entire North American continent pales before AfricaBurkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea or mighty Djibouti (not to mention zombie economies like Cuba and North Korea, if the economic data can be believed).

Of course, it doesn't take much to grow Djibouti: The economy is roughly the size of Fort Lee, New Jersey, while Equatorial Guinea is more like Roanoke or Green Bay. In dollar terms, Djibouti's 5.8% growth rate is equal to, say, a new shopping mall opening in Fort Lee - monster growth for a tiny country but a mere blip for an economy the size of New Jersey's.

Nevertheless, many of the OECD countries would have been lucky to get even that. Look at the map and see if you can find Japan. See if you can find Ireland. It's easier to find Sri Lanka. Good thing we have a long way to fall, because we're definitely headed in the wrong direction.