21 maps and charts that prove America is Number One


"Ronald Reagan the Liberator," by DeviantArt user SharpWriter.

This weekend, as we celebrate the birth of the world's oldest democracy with goods imported from the world's largest autocracy, it's worth remembering that America is truly an exceptional nation — in many ways good, and some ways bad. Below, the charts and maps that quantify 21 of the ways that America is #1.

1. Making money

china-world

Whether you measure it using exchange rates or get down with PPP, the U.S. is still the world's largest economy. On the exchange rate measure, the U.S. accounts for more than a fifth of the world's GDP.

2. Putting people in jail

Number of incarcerated people per 100,000 population


Wikimedia Commons (Data from the International Centre for Prison Studies)

The U.S.'s incarceration rate of 716 prisoners per 100,000 population is the world's highest. Thirty-six of our states also have higher incarceration rates than any country in the world. Freedom isn't free, especially if you're behind bars.

3. Jorts


Google trends

What could be more American than jean shorts? NOTHING, that's what. Americans search Google for "jorts" three times as much as Canadians, and ten times as much as Brits.

4. Making new parents work

Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center

America is dead last among OECD nations when it comes to paid parental leave. But this means that we're first in not providing paid leave! Technically, we are tied on this measure with Liberia, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland. But we are better than those countries in nearly every other respect, which means the tie goes to us.

5. Paying lots of money for health care


OECD

We all already know that our health care is insanely expensive. But it's always good to have a reminder of just how expensive it is.

6. Guns, guns, guns


Wikimedia commons. Data via Small Arms Survey 2007.

Okay, I know I said that nothing was more American than jorts just a few minutes ago, but I might have to take that back, because guns. There is nearly one gun for every single man, woman and child in the U.S. I'm not sure how many jorts there are, but I bet it's not that much.

7. Thinking highly of ourselves


Pew Global Attitudes Project

America is Number 1, according to Americans. Or at least, that was the case in 2012, when more Americans rated the U.S. favorably than people in any other country. Oddly, in 2013, the Philippines, Israel and Ghana all had higher opinions of us than we did of ourselves. How is it possible that people in other countries have more American pride than Americans do? I don't know, but when you're number one, anything is possible.

8. Killing people with flying robots


Pew Global Attitudes Project

The United States was the first country to kill people with drones, and we're the country killing the most people with drones. Setting aside all the thorny legal and moral questions, we're also the country most likely to approve of killing people with drones.

9. Making cheese


Index Mundi

Technically the EU makes more cheese than we do, but the E.U. isn't a country. Of course, this finding assumes that American cheese counts as a proper cheese, which of course it does.

10. Bald Eagles

Map of bald eagle range

Wikimedia commons
Wikimedia commons

Half of the world's 70,000 bald eagles live in Alaska. An additional 20,000 live in the lower 48, which means we totally crush Canada for the title of World's Bald Eagle Capital. You can have the moose and maple syrup, Canada — but the eagles are ours.

11. Super Bowl wins


Hahaha. Seriously though.

12. Military spending

The Economist.
The Economist.

Nobody else can touch our military spending. In 2012, our military budget was $683 billion. The next-highest spender, China, was less than a quarter of that.

13. Tornadoes


The U.S. is the world's tornado capital.

14. Spending money on Scotch


Scotch Whisky Association

France may import — and drink — the most whisky, but Americans spend more on it. Like health care, when it comes to whisky, we spend more and get less, because it's the American way.

15. Wasting time on the Internet


Americans use Twitter more than people in any other country. Twitter is an amazing tool — you can use it to spread democracy and topple dictators! But in reality, most of us are using it to share pictures of red pandas and get in stupid fights we know we'll never win.

16. Bill Murray


(Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via AP)

This isn't a chart, but there's only one Bill Murray and he lives in America.

17. Being rich

top-shares

We are really, really good at being rich, especially when it comes to the share of total income going to our 1 percent. One reason for this? Our tax policy is very favorable to high-income earners.

18. Selling corn

USDA
USDA

The U.S. is the world's top exporter of corn products. For that matter, we're also the world's top consumer of high-fructose corn syrup.

19. Watching TV


Statista

We watch more TV than anyone else in the world. And among Americans, West Virginians watch the most, averaging nearly four hours of tube time per day.

20. Going to work sick


OECD

Not only do we make our new moms get right back to work, we also encourage sick workers to suck it up by not mandating paid sick leave. Maybe that's why our productivity's so high?

21. Democracy

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 12.11.48 PM
Wikimedia commons

Even if we're not the best at democracy anymore, we've been doing it longer than anyone else.

Did I miss your favorite American superlative? Let me know in the comments.

Need more Freedom? 19 photos that make you appreciate America

Christopher Ingraham writes about politics, drug policy and all things data. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.
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