This Map Shows the Countries With the Lowest Internet Penetration

Emiko Jozuka

Emiko Jozuka

Researchers reveal an "archipelago of disconnection."

Image: Ralph Straumann, Mark Graham, geonet.oii.ox.ac.uk, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford (CC-BY-NC)

Many of us take internet access for granted. But this map, released by researchers at Oxford University's Internet Institute, shows which territories in the world still lack strong digital connectivity.

It uses data collected by the World Bank for 2013: Countries where less than ten percent of the population accessed the internet in 12 months are shown in yellow, and territories for which no data exists are shown in orange.

The map reveals what the researchers have dubbed an "archipelago of disconnection": a vast swathe of territory in Sub-Saharan Africa encompassing 28 countries where less than 10 percent of the population is online. This disconnected people, say the researchers, are largely "barred from participating in the cultural, educational, political, and economic activities" granted by the internet.

The researchers point out that some very populous countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have an overall internet penetration of only 2.6 percent. They cite the three largest: Ethiopia (with 94 million people), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (68 million), and Tanzania (49 million) as examples.

According to the researchers, there are several reasons for the lack of data in some areas: Sometimes territories can be statistically lumped together with larger ones; data on territories that lack statehood recognition is harder to collect; and sometimes simply no data has been collected.

For the last option, the researchers give the examples of Cyprus and the Isle of Man—which they suspect as having high internet connectivity but which show up as orange.

This map follows in the footsteps of another map released by the same researchers last week, which focused on connectivity rather than a lack thereof.