21 maps for the 21st century in the new economic and geopolitical world order

The article entitled “21 theses for the 21st century” is complete only if we can see all of this visually, so let me present you 21 maps for the 21 theses, which help to better understand the new world order of the 21stcentury. 21 maps, some of which shows our world from a wholly new perspective. Society, economy, sustainability, technology, ecological footprint, connectivity, scientific relations, the world from a European, Chinese and Eurasian perspective. laces are the new fusions of economy and technology. The future builds on long-term sustainability. We are at the dawn of a new world order where the world is becoming more and more connected. To understand this new economic world order, we need new maps.

Geography has returned…

Maps are playing an increasingly important role in our daily lives and their creation entails new changes in content. There is a need for new maps with new morphological symbols and a new cartographic perspective. New types of world structures are created and the maps designed by the great geographical discoveries result in digital navigation in the 21st century, thus creating digital and virtual geopolitics. The traditional concept of space changed in the second half of the 20th century. Our world is increasingly shrinking (global village) and expanding at the same time. In the 21st century, the geographical space-based geopolitics has been restored to its worthy place, and the roe of geographic components are particularly important in taking certain decisions.

The new world order is global and is about networks and information in the same way as the new type of maps are. Today, with the help of Google Maps and other tools, anyone can contribute to designing maps to an unprecedented degree. Community projects such as the OpenStreetMap create maps covering the entire globe, designed by users who cooperate in such a way which was not possible before digital technology. The power of making maps has always been the ability to create, organise, and distribute knowledge. Using digital maps, we can also observe how new technological devices are transforming the international economic space. We can see the importance of cities on the aerial images taken at night and published by NASA, and the connections of air transport reveal the new economic resources, HUBs, and economic and commercial nodes. 

1. HUBs and connectivity of Southeast Asia based on NASA images
Source: Shutterstock, HUG (Hungarian Geopolitical magazine) 2019/3 p. 2.
2. As China sees the world: world map from a Chinese perspective

There are around 200 countries on world maps, indicated with different colours, so that we can distinguish between countries. We learn continents and oceans on the world maps, and what is apparent is that Europe is in the centre of our map. But what kind of atlas do American students learn from, what maps do they use in in India, Thailand, Africa, or China? In 2015, a new world map was published, presenting our world from a completely different aspect. Looking at it from China, China is, of course, in the middle of the world map and the American continent is north of it. The Arctic Ocean also has an increasingly important role to play. The reason is very simple: when travelling by air from New York or Boston to China (Beijing or Shanghai), the shortest route leads through the Arctic circle. Another interesting fact is that is the map does not include Europe and Asia separately, but displays the supercontinent of Eurasia.

 Source: Fudan University, 2019 (Note – the map shows the Beijing–New York and Beijing–Hamburg sea routes)
3. The spatial arrangement of 7,6 billion people and USD 86 trillion: the topology-centred representation of the Earth’s population and economic strength
Source: United Nations Population Prospects, IMF World Economic Outlook, 2017, Map: Benjamin Hennig,

What would our world map look like if countries with an outstanding figure in each indicator would occupy an increasingly large place on the world map? This map shows the spatial distribution of the Earth’s population and economy from a very different perspective. In 2019, almost 60% of the world’s population is concentrated within the borders of seven countries (China, India, Indonesia, the United States of America, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria), making the Asian region much more highlighted on the map.

The world’s population has been growing steadily since 1350, but the largest population growth has been seen from the middle decades of the last century. Since 1950, the world’s population has tripled, reaching 7.7 billion people in 2019. 60% of the global population is concentrated in Asia. Among the 10 most populous countries, China and India, there are 2.7 billion people, representing 36% of the world’s population. Next in line, there are around one billion people living in the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, and Pakistan. The seventh most populous country is Nigeria, and it also has one of the fastest growing populations in the world, while Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world (1,138.9 inhabitants per km2). Russia is also among the ten most populous countries.

When the world population reached 7 billion in 2011, “100people.org” repeated the 1990 survey of Donella Meadows (1941-2001), who was a pioneering researcher in the American environment sciences. The characteristics of the world’s population have been represented as a group of 100 people, showing the distribution of the world’s population by gender, age group as well cultural and ethnic characteristics. So, if only 100 people lived on Earth, there would 50 women and 50 men, of whom 26 would be children and 74 adults, and only 8 would be over 65 years of age. 60 out of the 100 would live in Asia, 15 in Africa, 14 in America and 11 in Europe.

4. The World as 100 people
Source: Geofusion – Mapping of the 21st Century (2017)

According to the latest World Bank figures published in June 2019, the following countries have the largest share in the global economy (in trillion US dollars): United States (19.39), China (12.24), Japan (4.87), Germany (3.67), United Kingdom (2.62), India (2.60), France (2.58), Brazil (2.05), Italy (1.93), and Canada (1.65). The strongest 15 economies represent 75% of total global GDP, which, according to the World Bank, amounted to USD 85.8 trillion in 2018. It is interesting that the gap between China and the United States is decreasing and, in nominal terms, China’s economy is already the largest in the world, based on World Bank data for 2019. Asia represents 63% of this year’s global GDP growth in purchasing power parities, with China producing the lion’s share of it, while large countries such as India and Indonesia. Japan, the third largest economy in the world, contributes only 1% to global growth. The USA is the largest of the developed economies (11%). Europe contributes 8% to global growth. Over the past 40 years, Asia has dramatically increased its share of global economic performance. While in 1980, it only accounted for 8.9%, its share increased to 34.1% in 2019. By contrast, the European Union and the United States together accounted for 51.5% of global economic performance in 1980, down to 31% in 2019. In 2019, as Europe and Asia are interconnected, Eurasia provides 67% of global economic growth.

5. The GDP ratio of the countries of the Earth in nominal terms in 2018
Source: Parag Khanna – The Future is Asian – Future Map Project – 2019
6. Percentage Share of global GDP PPP Growth (2019)
Source: Visual Capitalist, 2019.
7. GDP per capita growth between 2000–2010
Source: World Bank
8. Distribution of retail trade flows between the United States, Europe, and Asia (in trillion dollars, %)
Source: Flows and Trolls, 2017 (Data. World Bank, 2017)

In the context of world trade, the central role of the United States is far from clear, and the rise of Eurasia is all the more visible. While the United States is the world’s most important trading partner for only 52 countries, China is already considered the number one trading partner by 124 countries. For decades, the United States and Europe have maintained the closest and largest trade relationship in the world. The two regions conduct trade of more than USD 1 trillion a year across the Atlantic. However, if we look at trade between the EU and China amounting to USD 400 billion a year, and that the EU conducts trade worth USD 200 billion a year with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), USD 150 billion a year with Japan and USD 100 billion a year with India, the total value also exceeds USD 1 trillion; moreover, in recent years, its value has increased to USSD 1.6 trillion. Further expansion of Europe’s trade relations with Asia is expected through new free trade agreements and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) mega project initiated by China.

9. Distribution of trade flows between the United States, Europe, and Asia
Source: Parag Khanna – The Future is Asian – Future Map Project, 2019
The 21st century will be the century of creativity and knowledge

The 21st century will be the century of creativity and knowledge, in which countries that cannot create knowledge will be forced to buy it. In contrast to large-size states, which may primarily rely on natural and physical factors, small countries, especially those that are scarce of natural resources, must become great in terms of their knowledge, as the “Asian Tigers” – Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea or Japan – have done and as small Eastern Central European states do, among others, the Baltic States (Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia) or Hungary. If we look at the map of the 21st-century innovation potential, that is where innovations and new patents are being developed, we see that, alongside the countries of Southeast Asia, Eastern Central Europe is playing an increasingly important role. 

10. The “innovation potential of the new world order”, or where are patents developed? based on patents notified, by country in 2014
Source: World Bank, 2014 – Map: Geo-moment – Map of the exploration of the 21st century, Csizmadia N:

However, it is worth looking at the network of scientific research cooperation links between 2005–2009 and comparing it to the 2018 results. Let us focus only on Southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent. We can see how strong these regions have become and have been integrated in the scientific scene over the last 10 years.

11. A network of contacts for scientific cooperation between 2005–2009
12. A network of contacts for scientific cooperation in 2018 (bottom map)

Source: Science-Metrix, Scimago Lab, Inc, Oliver H. Beauchesne – data scopus – Elsevier
 Age of the global cities

Today, the world’s socio-economic gathering and focal centres are clearly global cities. While in the 1800s only 3% of the Earth’s population lived in cities, today more than half of it (54%) do so. And the greatest urbanisation wave in human history will continue in the years to come. 75% of natural resources are used in urban areas. 80% of global GDP are produced in cities and 60-80% of the global greenhouse effect come from cities. Cities, however, cover only 3% of Earth’s surface. Cities are also key places of growth and paradigm shift. While there were 83 cities with a population of over one million in 1950, there are now 577 cities in the world with more than one million inhabitants, 384 cities with two million, 90 cities with five million cities, 64 cities with seven million, 28 cities with ten million, and 12 cities with a population of over twenty million. The cities in Asia and Africa grow the most dynamically.

13. The growth of urban populations between 1950–2030
Source: World Urbanization Prospects Data source: UN World Urbanization Prospects UN (2015).

Global cities are no longer determined by the past but by the future. This future is influenced by globalisation, urbanisation, and technological development. In addition, we have to take into account how much future educational and innovation potential cities have, and whether they can harness environmental resources in a sustainable way in the long term. New ideas, innovation-oriented economies, technology, attracting talent, inclusive labour markets, and the real estate dynamics of cities will become increasingly important. The new global cities redefine the term “global” as many smaller cities successfully compete against their larger neighbours.

In the age of globalisation, not only national economies but also large cities compete for hosting corporate centres with a regional role. In the globalising world economy, a new, global urban hierarchy is being developed, one of the main drivers of which is the international flow of capital, information, and services. The large cities which can attract the regional or global centres of international enterprises assume a leading position in this hierarchy. Richard Florida, a professor at Toronto University has proved with a large database that the most important factor in our lives is where we live. The driving forces of economic development are not equally distributed in the world but are concentrated in space. Cities have their own “personalities”. It is not technology that makes economies great and prosperous but people who shape them. The world and especially the world economy concentrate and culminate in global cities and megaregions.

14. Global urban engines by region

Source: Norbert Csizmadia  – Geofusion 2.0

The role of natural resources and minerals
15. Where is the oil? Oil production by country in 2018 (billion barrels, in Gbbl)
Source: HUG – Hungarian Geopolitics Magazine – 2018/1. issue

 Natural resources have a decisive influence on the position, opportunities, economic policy and role of geopolitical actors in international trade. States with significant raw material resources, such as the larger oil producer and exporting countries, often play a prominent role in shaping world policy. On the basis of various estimates, it can be concluded that the predominant share of the gas and oil reserves currently known is located in the central part of Eurasia in the so-called ”strategic ellipse” zone. 70% of the Earth’s oil reserves and 65% of its gas reserves are located in this zone, and within this zone, we can distinguish regions with a reserve of 1 to 5 trillion m3, 5 to 10 trillion m3, and regions with a reserve of more than 20 trillion m3. In the 21stcentury, besides energy sources, the possession of freshwater supplies is becoming increasingly important, as it can determine the future development of the region.

The situation is similar for rare-earth metals, which are essential for space exploration and for the conquest of cyberspace. China, the United States, the EU, and Japan are among the largest users in 2019, but 90% of the production has been linked to China in the last decade. In his book entitled Belt and Road, Bruno Macaes says that those who own rare-earth metals are regarded as the “lords” of the world.

16. The location of rare-earth metals in 2018
Source: HUG (Hungarian Geopolitics) magazine, 2019/1. issue China and the geopolitics of rare-earth metals – map drawn by: Fülöp Kovács

Human energy consumption per capita has increased by 120 times since hunter-gatherer societies. Energy use has not only increased, but also become increasingly complex with the development of mankind. Energy use has become extremely diverse, but the availability of energy sources remains limited in both variety and quantity. Initially, only biomass was used, in the form of food or wood. Subsequently, renewable energy (water, wind), fossil energy, and then nuclear energy appeared in the energy mix. This energy mix varies widely from country to country, depending on the availability of energy sources determined by geography and geographical qualities as well as sustainable energy management factors. Iceland’s geological conditions allow it to cover 78% of its total energy consumption from geothermal energy and a significant part of its remaining energy from hydropower, while Denmark already satisfied 39.1% of its electricity consumption from wind energy in 2014.

17. Countries with a share of renewable energy higher than 80% of all energy sources
Source: MapMania, 2019
World of HUBs in the airline connectivity

The world’s busiest airports are Atlanta Airport, the second is Beijing, the third is Dubai, the fourth and fifth are the airports of Tokyo and Osaka in Japan, the seventh is London Airport, followed by Los Angeles, Paris, and Hong Kong. The Official Aviation Guide (OAG) prepared a detailed report on the busiest domestic and international air routes between March 2018 and February 2019, disregarding operators with fewer than 500 trips per year. The report identifies fifteen domestic routes with more flights per year than on any international route. With nearly 80,000 flights per year, the air route between Seoul and the island of Jeju, South Korea – a popular tourist destination – is the world’s busiest route. The approximately 200 flights per day are served by seven carriers. This is followed by the Australian Melbourne–Sydney route with 54,102 flights a year and the Bombay–Delhi route in India with 45,188 flights. A study based on subjective views of the public also shows an interesting picture of the top ten airports in the world. The evaluation was based on 39 aspects. The latest available survey was carried out on the basis of data from 2016 at more than 550 airports, with 13 million passengers being reported. The first 10 airports in the world list are: Changi (Singapore, Singapore), Incheeon (Seoul, South Korea), Haneda (Tokyo, Japan), Hong Kong (China), Hamad (Doha, United Arab Emirates), Munich (Germany), Centrair (Nagoya, Japan), Heathrow (London), Zurich (Switzerland), Frankfurt (Germany).

Large cities such as the above and major global cities have airports that can accommodate A380 aircraft with large passenger capacity. Most A380 planes fly between Western European (London, Paris, Frankfurt), Eastern Asian (Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul), Southeast Asian (Bangkok, Singapore), Middle Eastern (Dubai), North American (new York, Los Angeles) cities’ airports. They are also the most developed major cities with the highest GDP in the world. Also, these airports have the largest passenger traffic in the world. The main operators are: Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Emirates, Lufthansa, Air France, Korean Air Lines, China Southern. In 2018, 222 Airbus A380 aircraft were in service; 15 airlines are currently operating A380 flights; and Emirates has the most destinations, approximately 40.

18. The world’s 50 busiest airports in 2016
Source: Artec, 2016.
19. Air transport routes in 2016, based on the routes of 182 companies, and the network of major air traffic hubs
Source: Visual Capitalist, 2016

In addition to air transport, the importance of shipping is also of paramount importance with respect to connectivity. A survey by Lloyd’s List Intelligence ranked the ports with the largest cargo traffic in the world. The ranking was established on the basis of the volume of cargo, the unit of measurement being the TEU (two-foot equivalent unit), i.e. the twenty-foot standard container.

Seven out of the ten largest ports are located in China. The port of Shanghai leads the global ranking by far, but most ports’ traffic is growing year by year, with a few exceptions. The largest European port is in the city of Rotterdam (Netherlands), while in North America, the port of Los Angeles (USA) has the highest traffic based on research by Maritime Intelligence in 2018. 

Age of Fusion and Networks

What would our world map look like if Facebook connectivity profiles were used on the world map? 

20. Connection map of Facebook users
Source: Facebook, 2015.

The exponential development of information technology is largely altering human, social, geographical, economic, political, and cultural relations, as it significantly facilitates access to knowledge about the world, the use of data, and the comparison analysis, regrouping and growth of knowledge. Information technology is able to build bridges between continents, regions, cities, and communities far from each each other, ensuring immediate presence and potential for action. It highlights that the creation of geofusions and groupings that develop along scientific and geopolitical “power lines” are largely determined by the specific characteristics of geographical locations. Therefore, the new science of network research is being more and more appreciated as it indicates centres, links, and accessibility allowing general findings to lead to concrete conclusions and solutions.

Connectivity and Geofusion – The Power of Geography

The term “connectography” (coined by “connecting” connectivity and geography”) was introduced and popularised by Parag Khanna in 2016 in his book entitled “Connectography — Mapping of the Future Civilizaton”. According to Khanna’s interpretation, since the turn of the millennium, geoeconomic systems have been organised into new types of geographic networks and operate on the basis of new methodological principles. According to Khanna, in this new configuration, the direct and indirect interconnection of different infrastructures, whether a long distance apart, and the management and control of the resulting supply chains are the basis for the new geopolitical paradigm. Connectivity has, therefore, become a new world paradigm, and the maps showing the classic political boundaries so far can be extended with signs of electricity lines, motorways, rail networks, internet cables, aircraft routes, i.e. the symbols of the global network society. Geopolitical competition is being extended and is changing in the struggle for interconnection of supply systems. Competitive connectivity is the most important geostrategic factor in the 21st century.

Today, infrastructure lines (and therefore interconnection) are the most important lines in our maps, making it easier to understand our 21st-world order. “If we only look at infrastructure, we can see what we have built, but not what the impact is on the rest of the world. Therefore, in the 21st century, we need to learn three kinds of geography – natural geography, political geography, and functional geography – if we really want to understand what is happening around us. Each region counts as the region is part of the network. The world is becoming increasingly complex, and we must be aware of the value of connectivity, regionalism, and other forces that shape the world much more than our traditional geopolitical theories, which are only based on area, size, and military force.”, explained Parag Khanna in 2017 during a lecture at Corvinus University of Budapest.


In 2013, the geomatrix creating software of “3D Map Technology” launched a real-time satellite imaging program called “Geofusion”, which runs on British Airways and more than 422 flights of 12 additional airlines. This is a special “fusion” map which shows exactly where the aircraft we are currently sitting on is located at the moment, and this has triggered a real-time cartographic revolution. In Parag Khanna’s book “Connectography”, the Geofusion software is defined as “integrating virtual reality and 3-D visualization techniques into its GeoMatrix and GeoPlayer engines to produce near real-time visualizations used in industries such as aviation, defence, space exploration, education, and entertainment”.

The term “fusions” first spread in the world of music. Through the fusion of music (especially in the jazz era or in the “world music” genre), that is the combination and merger of different musical styles a new style is born. For example, the definition of gastronomic fusions reads as follows: “where Eastern tastes meet Western tastes”. The first gastronomic fusion took place in 1899 at the most famous hotel of Singapore at the Raffles Hotel, run by the Armenian Raffles family.

The fusion of places, i.e. “geofusion” is the synthesis of geography, creating new entities in geography, by using economic policy, economics, technology, design, and visualization at the same time. Geofusion maps are new maps that form a new approach from a wide variety of areas, using maps to explain geopolitical and geoeconomic relations. Geofusional complex map representation modes include connectivity factors, infrastructure and knowledge networks, geographical nodes, i.e. HUBs built on geopolitical structures, and global nodes, defining a new type of interpretation. Thus, if we depict the new geostrategic map of the 21stcentury, we will get a very surprising new result, which shows the economic, commercial, geopolitical, and cultural forces of the new polycentric world order, with one major challenge, namely that we must keep it sustainable in the long term.

We need to redraw our static maps because changing human values and technological innovations require dynamic maps. The informational revolution and globalisation trends are leading to a radical change in the way economies operate around the world. This period is the unique geo-moment when a knowledge-based competition begins between territories and lead to completely new economic rankings. In this competition, the geopolitical-based new economic geography and dynamic maps presenting new phenomena in several versions help to choose and implement the right and fast path.

21. The “Geofusional” world map of the 21st century
Source: Norbert Csizmadia, Geofusion 2.0 – The Power of Geography

The writer is the head of Pallas Athene Domus Meriti Foundation.

Original Source: Norbert, Csizmadia: 21 maps for the 21st century in the new economic and geopolitical world order. In: novekedés.hu, 2020. 02. 20. https://novekedes.hu/english/21-maps-for-the-21st-century-in-the-new-economic-and-geopolitical-world-order

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: