I stumbled across a fascinating data set recently, Wikipedia’s lists of foreign embassies. Considering the cost of maintaining government officials overseas, it’s pretty amazing to think about how many embassies many countries maintain.
I was particularly struck by Belgium’s unique situation. Because it is a Federal State, Belgium’s foreign relations actually have three threads, one for the Belgian state, another for Dutch-speaking community, and a third one for the French-language community. For the Americans in the audience, this is broadly as if some states had decided that it didn’t trust Obama, and went to negotiate its own treaty with Iran. Actually, they kind of did, but the Belgians have this stuff down to a science, coordinating representation with the three communities into a one of the most effective forces for enabling international dialog.
To get a quantitative sense of the country’s reach, I grabbed and cleaned the list of Belgium’s 106 official embassies from Wikipedia. For comparison, I also grabbed the Netherlands (134, step it up Belgium!) and the United States (300, though many of them are probably just McDonalds restaurants with wifi for Skype).
I’m only getting started with this exploration, but in the spirit of international cooperation (as with the UK Open Data post), I thought it would be awesome to see what insights and visualizations others came up with. Drop me a line if you post anything and I’ll share it here!
- Download list of Belgian embassies
- Download list of Dutch embassies
- Download list of US embassies
- Download list of French embassies
- Download list of German embassies
Wheel Connections – Qlik
Flow – RAW
Heatmap – Python
If you want to learn more about how to build visualizations, check out my article on Time Series with Python