Iran’s Push for Influence in the Middle East

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By expanding its reach in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, Iran is building a land bridge to the Mediterranean.

Population Density of Canada

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May 28, 2016 Canada is one of those countries where a vast land mass obscures the fact that the country has a relatively small population. While Canada is the second largest country in the world, its 35 million inhabitants make Canada only the 39th most populated country.

In this way, Canada is similar to countries like Egypt, Russia and Australia. Egypt is a country of over 80 million people and its size is formidable on a map, yet most of its inhabitants are located on a thin strip of land about the size of the state of Maryland on either bank of the Nile River. For Russia, the world’s largest country by land mass, its population centers are located in the west, close to Europe, while the vast and desolate Siberian region is sparsely populated and not connected to Russian infrastructure. Australia – the world’s sixth largest country by land mass and a continent in its own right – has even fewer people than Canada (around 23 million), all living in cities along the coast. The interior of the country is unforgiving and inhospitable.

Islamic State Attacks Outside of Core Since June 2014

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July 16, 2016 This is a map of attacks either directly carried out by the Islamic State or inspired by their message. The map does not take into account attacks in Syria and Iraq, as that is core Islamic State territory and strikes there are directly linked to IS’ goal of maintaining territorial control of its caliphate. The goal of this map is to show the global reach of IS ideology and activities.

IS has either directed or inspired attacks on every major continent except South America, and South America’s exceptional status is not for lack of trying. IS has targeted majority Muslim nations from Tunisia to Indonesia. It has targeted Western nations from the United States to Australia. There are roughly 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. Islamic State, however falsely, purports to speak for them all. Its ambitions are global.

China’s Gross Regional Product

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Jan. 27, 2017 The average annual per capita disposal income by household in China in 2014 was about 20,000 yuan or approximately $3,000, which equates to $8.22 a day. On the surface, that seems to be a somewhat promising figure. It wouldn’t make any of these households rich or even lower-middle class by American standards, but it would be quite a leap forward from where they started. In 1981, the year the World Bank began tracking poverty in China, 88.3 percent of China’s population lived on less than $1.90 a day.

Iraq’s Battle to Reclaim Ramadi

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Dec. 29, 2015 The retaking of Ramadi is the first major victory for the Shia-dominated Iraqi government against the Islamic State, which, in the summer of 2014, seized large parts of the Sunni majority areas in the western part of the country. Baghdad still faces an uphill battle as it pushes further into Anbar province and, more importantly, Nineveh province and its capital Mosul, which is where IS has its Iraqi headquarters. This map reveals the proximity between Ramadi and Baghdad, as well as their distance from the IS-controlled city of Mosul.

The European Union: Divided on Brexit

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EU members have different visions for the bloc’s future relationship with the U.K.

Foreign Holders of U.S. Treasury Securities

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Dec. 30, 2016 The biggest myth surrounding the issue of China as a holder of U.S. debt securities is the outsized role China is perceived as playing. U.S. government debt currently totals $19.89 trillion. This is a somewhat misleading figure, however. Intragovernmental holdings make up $5.47 trillion of that figure, which means that almost 30 percent of the debt is money that the U.S. government owes itself. Of the remaining $14.41 trillion, $6.15 trillion is held by foreign sources, and the rest is held by various U.S. pension funds, insurance companies and other investors. Of the amount held by foreign sources, only $1.84 trillion is held by China, 61 percent of which is held in U.S. Treasury securities. (The rest is in equities and corporate or U.S. agency securities, as shown below.)

In Cyprus, a Battle Between East and West

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Turkey needs to establish a buffer on its Mediterranean shores.

Spain’s Defining Geographic Feature

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Nov. 3, 2017 Geography affects the development of all nations in profound ways, but rarely has it done so more strikingly than in Spain. Today the country is renowned for its beaches, but its defining geographic feature is its mountains. It is the existence – and more important, the location – of these mountains that has fostered the distinct, regional communities that make Spain so difficult to govern.

Though mountains are Spain’s most conspicuous geographic feature, they are not the only one to impede government efforts to unify the country. The weather patterns in Spain differ profoundly from region to region. Northwestern Spain gets a great deal of rain each year – sometimes as much as 80 inches a year. Compare that to the Southern Meseta, which sometimes sees as little as 10 inches of rain per year. Central and southern Spain are much dryer, though the Guadalquivir River Valley is a notable exception. Northeastern Spain has comparatively less rainfall too, but Catalonia has the Ebro River (and Valencia the Turia River) for irrigation.

Fiscal Measures to Combat the Coronavirus

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(click to enlarge) As the coronavirus has spread across the globe, it has paralyzed economies. With widespread quarantines, demand has lagged, supply chains have been...

Natural Gas Cooperation in the Eastern Med

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Regional states have formed a coordination forum.

Mexico’s Public Debt Compared to Other Countries, 2015

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Oct. 8, 2016 Following Moody’s lead, credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s recently lowered Mexico’s long-term outlook from stable to negative due to its growing public debt. The warning bells surrounding the debt were sounded not so much because of the size of Mexico’s public debt but because of the speed at which that debt accumulated in recent years.

This week’s graphic shows different economic regions or groups with which Mexico is associated. When we look at Mexico’s debt as a percent of GDP, we see that it ranks on the lower end compared to its peers. This chart looks at three main peer groups. First, from a geographic perspective, Mexico belongs in North America, which is reflected in its membership in the North American Free Trade Agreement. Second, Mexico is often included in the group of “emerging” economies by mainstream media. Third, a number of major European economies are close in size to Mexico’s economy. From multiple angles, Mexico’s situation is comparatively positive.