This map illustrates the most visited website in each country.
The map uses freely available data retrieved Alexa on August 12th, 2013. The company has provided website analytics since 1996. Alexa collects data from millions of Internet users using one of over 25,000 different browser extensions, and the data used for this visualization were calculated “using a combination of the estimated average daily unique visitors to a site and the estimated number of pageviews on that site from users in that country over the past month”.
The data are visualised as a choropleth map, where the colour indicates each country’s most visited website. Starting from the evident dominance of two companies (Google and Facebook), whose colours (red and blue, respectively) cover most of the map, we styled the illustration as an old colonial map, and named it after the computer game series Age of Empire. A second map below illustrates the same data, using the hexagonal cartogram of the Internet Population 2011.
The supremacy of Google and Facebook over any other site on the Web is clearly apparent. We also see an interesting geographical continuity of these two “empires”. Google is the most visited website in most of Europe, North America, and Oceania. Facebook, in contrast, is the most visited website in most of the Middle East and North Africa, as well as much of the Spanish-speaking Americas.
The situation is more complex in Asia, as local competitors have been able to resist the two large American empires. Baidu is well known as the most used search engine in China, which is currently home to the world’s largest Internet population at over half a billion users. At the same time, Alexa reports a puzzling fact that Baidu is also listed as the most visited website in South Korea (ahead of the popular South Korean search engine, Naver). We speculate that the raw data that we are using here are skewed (thus, this datum is not shown on the map). However, we may also be seeing the Baidu empire in the process of expanding beyond its traditional home territory.
The remaining territories that have escaped being subsumed into the two big empires include Yahoo! Japan in Japan (in join venture with SoftBank) and Yahoo! in Taiwan (after the acquisition of Wretch). The Al-Watan Voice newspaper is the most visited website in the Palestinian Territories, the e-mail service Mail.ru is the most visited in Kazakhstan, the social network VK the most visited in Belarus, and the search engine Yandex the most visited in Russia.
Alexa does not provide much information about countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, most countries that have a significant Internet population are covered. Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, and South Africa fall within the sphere of Google’s empire, whereas Ghana, Senegal, and Sudan have been subsumed within Facebook’s dominion.
The power of Google on the Internet becomes starkly evident if we also look at the second most visited website in every country. Among the 50 countries that have Facebook listed as the most visited visited website, 36 of them have Google as the second most visited, and the remaining 14 countries list YouTube (currently owned by Google).
The countries where Google is the most visited website account for half of the entire Internet population, with over one billion people, as illustrated in the map below. Thanks to the large Internet population of China and South Korea, Baidu is second in this rank, as these two countries account for more than half a billion Internet users, whereas the 50 countries where Facebook is the most visited website account for only about 280 million users, placing the social network website in third position.
We are likely still in the very beginning of the Age of Internet Empires. But, it may well be that the territories carved out now will have important implications for which companies end up controlling how we communicate and access information for many years to come.