Disarmament Insight


Wednesday, 24 October 2007


Professor Danny Dorling of the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom reckons, “you can say it, you can prove it, you can tabulate it, but it is only when you show it that it hits home.”

Dorling and his colleagues are backing up this claim. Their research group on Social and Spatial Inequalities (SASI) has established the Worldmapper project in collaboration with Mark Newman at the Center for the Study of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan in the United States.

Worldmapper is a collection of some 366 world maps, in which territories are re-sized according to a chosen variable of interest. Indicators they’ve mapped range from wealth, education and health to population movements, goods production and natural disaster casualties.

The Worldmapper database also includes cartograms depicting military spending as well as violence and war statistics. I was particularly interested in a map representing territory size as the proportion of worldwide landmine casualties from 2003 to 2005.

The first image below is a classic world map. The second is the Worldmapper version, which visually depicts where casualties are occurring by appearing to swell or shrink areas according to their proportion of landmine casualties (click on the pictures to enlarge).

“Landmine casualty” here is drawn from the Landmine Monitor definition to refer to any “individual killed or injured as a result of an incident involving antipersonnel mines, anti-vehicle mines, improvised explosive devices, dud cluster munitions, and other unexploded ordnance”.

During the time period from 2003 to 2005, Landmine Monitor reported around 7,000 casualties from landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) worldwide per year. However, this figure “represents only the reported casualties and does not take into account the many casualties that are believed to go unreported.” The real number of new casualties from landmines/ERW each year is estimated by Landmine Monitor to be between 15,000 and 20,000.

As we can see on the map, the most affected countries in the time period 2003-2005 included Iraq, Afghanistan, Cambodia and Colombia. Together, these countries accounted for almost 4000—or 57%—of the reported number of casualties.

Aurélia Merçay


Worldmapper’s website: http://www.worldmapper.org .

Social and Spatial Inequalities (SASI) research group’s homepage.

D. Dorling, Worldmapper: The Human Anatomy of a Small Planet, PLOS Medicine, January 2007, volume 4, issue 1, edition 1, freely available online.