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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

A Fascinating Map, and What It Says About Germany

By: Inoljt,

One of the most interesting maps to have come out recently is this one:


This is a map of Facebook connections as of December 2010. There are a lot of things which this map says, and it is quite interesting to make out patterns in the array of lights.

For instance, the lights in Brazil and Australia are almost entirely located along the coasts, while the inland region is empty. This is because almost everybody there lives along the sea-side cities, which may surprise a lot of people (especially for those not familiar with Brazil). The same is true for Canada, apart from the areas bordering America. It’s kind of like Canada is part of the United States.

There are also interesting patterns about Facebook usage. Russia and Brazil have a relatively low density of lights, because Facebook is not very popular in those countries. China is, of course, mostly devoid of lights since Facebook is banned there – although there are a smattering of connections from Beijing and Shanghai.

What was most interesting to this individual, however, was the map of Europe.

Below is a close-up.


Do you see anything worth noting?


Look at Germany!

There is a clear divide, more than a generation after the end of the Cold War, between what used to be East and West Germany. East Germany appears to be more like Poland and than the western half of the country.

This is quite amazing. One can literally draw the boundaries of former East Germany with little more than a map of Facebook usage rates.

It is all the more startling to see such a precise line on Facebook connections, of all things. This is, after all, a company that didn’t exist in 1989, based off an industry that hadn’t been invented in 1989, whose primary users are young people who probably grew up under a united Germany.

There are some interesting implications to this map. Most people agree that East Germany hasn’t done as well as many dreamed it would in 1989. This is not for lack of trying; Germany has poured more than a trillion dollars into the region since reunification. Germans sincerely and deeply want to develop the former GDR; Chancellor Angela Merkel, who spent many years under communist rule, almost certainly desires that.

Yet the remarkable disparity between east and west Germany is made quite obvious by this map. Despite all of the country’s attempts to fix it, there is still something broken about East Germany.


  1. Elch

    Fascinating and not surprising at the same time.

    First off, I grew up in East Germany and I’m not on Facebook. 🙂

    I don’t think there is anything kaput, however, there are clearly differences on many layers and the historic burden is still visible under the surface. A large part of young people (the facebookers) in the East is going to the West or at least to the “big cities” to find a good job.

    More elderly people remain and partly more wealthy elderly people from the West move to the East to enjoy life along the Baltic coast for example. This is what I’d call the Florida effect. 😉 In general, the density of population is much lower than in the Western parts. The impact on Facebook usage is obvious.

    In my opinion one more important fact play a role here and that is the inherited angst when it comes to data privacy – historically driven by the Stasi which was monitoring an entire society… Facebook might be seen in a much different light.

    Maybe social relations are just happening primarily in the real life.

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