It’s the tale of internet domination, told through an old timey map

While it’s true that Web-related statistics are a thing to behold, digits aren’t nearly as impressive as seeing them represented in a visual masterpiece … which is exactly what Oxford Internet Institute researchers Stefano De Sabbata and Dr. Mark Graham did with a map they created illustrating the most visited websites in the world.

Entitled “Age of Internet Empires,” the project makes use of data sourced from Alexa. Two types of statistics were prominently used for the illustration: A site’s average number of unique users per day and the average number of views it receives per country. A website’s “territory” where it’s most visited by local users can be seen through the map’s thematic design. 

According to the map (which the creators say was named after the popular game), this is what you need to know about every notable website’s claim for power.

1. Call me Captain Obvious, but let’s just go ahead and say it – Google is King of the Internet. Just look at the map. 

2. Facebook may not have Google’s cosmic reach over the interwebs yet, but as of now it is, without a doubt, the King of Social Media. At least 50 countries consider the social network to be the number one staple in their everyday dose of the digital world, most of them located in the Middle East, North African, and Spanish-speaking American regions. However, the company’s rule over these territories isn’t completely free from Google’s influence; out of the 50 countries that have put Facebook in the top spot, 36 listed Google and 14 placed YouTube (which is Google-owned) in second place. Don’t get too cocky, Facebook.

3. Not a lot is known about countries within the Sub-Saharan African regions, but areas that have Internet connectivity mostly turn to – you guessed it – Google and Facebook for their online routine. Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, and South Africa are Google loyalists while Ghana, Senegal, and Sudan are more Facebook-inclined.

4. While Facebook has successfully infiltrated the Eastern hemisphere through its supremacy over the Philippines, other countries in the Asian region aren’t as swayed by Mark Zuckerberg’s brainchild; they’re also unimpressed by Google’s household-name status.

Among the many available search engines on the Internet, there is one contender that Google needs to keep an eye on if it wants to retain its dominance. Baidu is the most used search engine in China (also where Facebook isn’t welcome), which incidentally is the country that has the world’s largest Internet population comprised of more than half a billion users. Baidu is also the most viewed website in South Korea, besting Naver, the country’s local search engine.

Not to be forgotten as the search engine of yesteryear, Yahoo stakes its claim over Taiwan and Japan, the latter easily known to be one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world.

5. While Google and Facebook’s unquestionable popularity dominates most of the map, certain countries prefer their own versions of the two sites. Belarus does most of its social networking through VK, and Russia’s go-to search engine is Yandex. Instead of subscribing to the notion that Gmail is the only email service you will ever need, Kazakhstanis pick as their communication platform of choice. In Palestinian territories, visiting newspaper site Al-Watan Voice is preferable over Googling current news reports.

6. The data visualized by the Age of Internet Empires map has also been reproduced using a clearer hexagonal cartogram of the Internet Population 2011.

internet population map

In this view, the sites’ ranking according to popularity shifts a little bit. Google still pretty much overshadows everything else as it accounts for more than one billion people who use the site regularly. That’s half of the entire Internet populace.

And as previously noted, China is responsible for over half a billion Internet users alone, and the fact that they all turn to Baidu for their online searching needs puts the site in second place, overtaking Facebook – despite its 1.15 billion monthly active users, only around 280 million call it their most visited site.

What does all this say about the future of the Web? “We are likely still in the very beginning of the Age of Internet Empires,” wrote De Sabbata and Graham on the map’s page in the Information Geographies website. “But, it may well be that the territories carved out now will have important implications for which companies end up controlling how we communicate and access information for many years to come.”

Image credit: Mark Graham and Stefano De Sabbata, Information Geographies

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