Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Population of Canada by Longitude

A couple of months ago a friend of mine on Facebook shared a post with me that graphed the population of Canada by latitude. They also challenged me to come up with a similar graph of Canada's population, but by longitude.

And I promptly forgot. Until now!

Like the original post mentions, finding geographical data that matches up with population data from Statistics Canada is quite tough, largely because the postal code data is intellectual property of Canada Post, and they don't much like sharing. I managed to find the 2011 Census data sorted by Forward Sortation Area (the first three digits of your postal code), and the geographical data for all postal codes (which was an unreasonably large file), and combine the two to get a fairly precise view of the data. To make sure what I had was close enough to the original graph, I redid his work by latitude first:

Close enough. Around the north some things get wacky because postal codes are so large and we likely used different ways to approximate the centers of each FSA, but I'm still reasonably satisfied with the result.

It's a fun graph, and deservedly the original got a nice amount of HuffPo press. It's pretty weird to think that about half of Canada lives below the northern suburbs of Montreal, and only 31% of the country lives above the 49th parallel section of the border.

Sure, Canada's tall, but lets talk about how wide it is. It's really wide. It stretches from 52°37'W at Cape Spear to 141°0'W at Boundary Peak, which covers nearly a quarter of the longitudinal values on earth. Yay us.

If we do the same analysis as the previous graph, but for Longitude, we get the following (you can click on the image to zoom and enhance, spy-movie style!):


So really, nothing too surprising. The majority of people tend to live somewhere between Toronto and Qu├ębec City, and in both British Columbia and Alberta the major cities tend to fall more or less along the same line north-south.

I was planning on combining both maps into a generic heatmap for Canada, but then I stumbled on this, and it's way cooler than anything I'd have been able to do, so I'll just share it with you instead. Try not to get too mesmerized...

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