Jan. 6, 2016 There have been signs of slowing growth in China’s economy. This week, the Chinese stock market plummeted, before rebounding a day later. While the economic impact of these developments is significant, the political ramifications are the greater question. This map shows some of the challenges the government faces in keeping the country together, particularly during a time of declining economic performance. In China, income levels in the western provinces are far lower than the coastal provinces, while the interior of the country is somewhere in the middle. This indicates both that the benefits of the growth period were not evenly distributed and that the coastal area could view the rest of the country as a threat to its economic interests. The government will have to navigate these challenges as economic growth continues to slow down.
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.
Dec. 21, 2015 South Korea’s economy is exposed to substantial risk due to the economic slowdown in its largest trading partner, China, and some concerns of resulting political instability are beginning to emerge. The country’s economic difficulties can be seen through its export figures. South Korean exports are thought of as a bellwether in the global financial community because they are released consistently at the beginning of the month and because South Korea is a producer of a wide variety of goods. These numbers have been negative all year and year-to-date South Korean exports are down 7.5 percent.
Dec. 14, 2015 The Schengen agreement removed border controls of 26 European countries and allowed people to move from one country to another without needing to receive visas or stop for border checks once inside the zone. However, there are growing indications that the free movement agreement is under threat, with Greece being threatened with suspension and Germany and France floating a plan to allow for a European border control force to be deployed.
Dec. 9, 2015 Since 2011, Syria has been torn apart by the ongoing civil war. This conflict created an opportunity for the Islamic State to take hold of some territory in the country and even establish its own de facto capital in Raqqa. Different parts of Syria are now being controlled by government forces, the Islamic State, the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, Kurds and various rebel groups.
Dec. 2, 2015 The Middle East today is defined by an Arab world steeped in the anarchy of dissolving secular states and proliferating Islamist armed non-state actors. These entities consist of different Muslim sects, the largest of which is composed of Sunnis. Amid the diverging interests, Saudi Arabia and the Islamic State are the main contenders for Sunni Arab leadership. Meanwhile, the three non-Arab powers – Turkey, Iran and Israel – are trying to manage the regional commotion according to their national interests.