The decline of empire

Oh, I love a bit of infoporn and this is a truly glorious visualisation of the decline of the British, Spanish, French and Portuguese maritime empires by Pedro Cruz. (For a bigger version, pop along to Vimeo.)

Cruz explains:

The data refers to the evolution of the top 4 maritime empires of the XIX and XX centuries by extent. I chose the maritime empires because of their more abrupt and obtuse evolution as the visual emphasis is on their decline. The first idea to represent a territory independence was a mitosis like split — it’s harder to implement than it looks. Each shape tends to retain an area that’s directly proportional to the extent of the occupied territory on a specific year. The datasource is mostly our beloved wikipedia. The split of a territory is often the result of an extent process and it had to be visualized on a specific year. So I chose to pick the dates where it was perceived a de facto independence (e.g. the most of independence declarations prior to the new state’s recognition). Dominions of an empire, were considered part of that empire and thus not independent.

The wonderful thing about these sorts of projects is that they turn otherwise dry information into fascinating social objects.

Via David Weinberger.