Monday, April 09, 2018

The Rise & Fall of Communism

The Spread of Communism is an animated Leaflet map showing the rise and fall of global communism from 1917 to 2017. Starting with the Russian Revolution in 1917 communist countries are colored red on the map during the year that they fell to communism. The red country shapefiles are then removed from the map by the year when communism was overturned.

The data for the dates when countries became communist and when communism was overturned comes from Wikipedia. The country shapefiles for the map come from Geo-Maps. Geo-Maps is a collection of GeoJSON files from OpenStreetMap. The map includes political land borders, coastlines, seas and rivers.

One problem with using one set of country shapefiles is that the map therefore doesn't account for shifting country borders over time. The period of history covered by the Spread of Communism saw political borders change dramatically around the world. For example on this map the whole of Germany is shown as being communist from 1950 to 1990 - presumably because Geo-Maps doesn't have a GeoJSON file for East Germany.
You can see how much Europe changed in the 100 years from 1914 to 2014 on Radio Liberty's map comparing pre-World War I Europe to the Europe of today. Europe 1914 and 2014 allows you to compare the two maps and view how a some country borders have changed dramatically over the last one hundred years. Swipe to the left to reveal the 1914 map and swipe to the right to view the 2014 map.

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