observatory of economic complexity germany

Living in an increasingly globalised world, imports and exports play have a huge stake in a country’s prosperity. The Observatory of Economic Complexity shows us just how significant these trade is, showing the staggering amounts of goods which pass from country-to-country each year, as well as exactly which commodities form the cornerstones of nations’ economies.

According the website’s blurb, The Observatory of Economic Complexity is “a tool that allows users to quickly compose a visual narrative about countries and the products they exchange. It was Alexander Simoes’ Master Thesis in Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab, which you can read here.”

It would be easy to spend hours poring through this index of global trade. Some interesting findings we uncovered through randomly trawling through the website are:

  • France exports a huge amount of wine, unsurprisingly. The export of wine is worth $8.65 billion to France’s economy each year.
  • When thinking about Costa Rica, tropical fruit may be the first export which springs to mind. Bananas and tropical fruit constitue 5.97% and 5.48% of Costa Rica’s trade respectively. However, there biggest export is integrated circuits, making up a massive 41.42% of their annual trade
  • South Africa make $37.57 billion every year through the export of gold, platinum and ore
  • Saudi Arabia and many of its neighbouring countries make an eye-watering amount through the export of fossil fuels- Saudi Arabia alone makes a staggering $334 billion in crude petroleum. To visualise just how dependent Saudi Arabia is on the export of fossil fuels, compare the veritable mosaic of Germany’s exported goods at top of the post, to Saudi Arabia’s chart below

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