Primary Source

World Light Map

Map of the earth showing areas where lights can be seen from space at night


In "38 maps that explain the global economy", Matthew Yglesias has captured for Vox the prominent features of our contemporary global economy and society. For example, this map from NASA is a composite satellite image that shows how each region of the world appears at night. The lights, Yglesias notes, serve as a rough proxy for the combination of wealth and population density. The collected maps in the Vox article can help you become familiar with and begin to analyze contemporary globalization. As historians, we should bring current globalization in dialogue with the past, but this is a two-way street: Going one direction, what are the past trajectories that landed us into these contemporary conditions described by the 38 maps? Going the other direction, what expressions of globalization or build-ups towards globalizations originating in the past are missing in these maps? This source is a part of the The History of Globalization methods primer.


NASA, Earth at Night,

How to Cite This Source

"World Light Map," in World History Commons, [accessed January 27, 2023]