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Among the data sets I enjoy playing around with in a Southeast Asian context are population statistics.

As I mentioned here there are some huge problems with this endeavour, but that shouldn’t be a reason not to do the best we can with what we have.

And so, acknowledging the data is incomplete and inadequate and that is absolutely no fault of those who also did their professional best to bring it together, I want to share something I quickly put together from the data at the website organised by Thomas Brinkhoff: City Population, http://www.citypopulation.de


I have replicated and magnified the key below.


The vertical axis alludes to city population size, while the horizontal axis markers attempt to rank the urban populations in each country from largest to smallest.

The largest city in each country has been removed for purposes of clarity. In particular, including Jakarta and Manila on the graph effectively rescaled the above demographic contours to invisibility, compelling their omission.

To me the very vivid message is the awesome number and sizes of Indonesia’s mid ranking cities (depicted in yellow). The huge gap to the Philippines (in green below) simply serves to illustrate Indonesia’s breathtaking demographics.

Finally, while I mentioned above that there are big problems with the data making the above graphic little more than indicative, a further problem arises with the data snapshots being taken at very different times, ranging from the year 2000 (Malaysia) to late 2015 (the Philippines).

We can only work with the data we have, but to me, while the data is so often unreliable working with it is also so often enjoyable.