Visualizing global arms trade with Google

Global arms trade is an issue that countries have been dealing with for a long time. In Africa, the eruption of wars and coup d’état, fuel global arms trade making surrounding regions unsafe.

However, governments always buy ammunition for their country’s defence forces and ordinary police. Little is known on how some of the trade is done. But Google has brought statistics of this to the web.

Google has mapped out the global arms trade using a new portal it has launched. The portal comprises of data ranging from the year 1992 to 2010.

This is just not a website that shows the number of guns, but also maps out the route that arms come into each country of the world.

This tool was created by Google Ideas lab in conjunction with Igarape Institute a body that sensitizes on the arms trade globally.

“More than 1 million data points on imports and exports of small arms, light weapons and ammunition between 1992 and 2010 and across 250 states and territories across the world were provided by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) small arms database,” Scott Carpenter, Deputy Director, Google Ideas said.

“The visualization reveals patterns and trends in imports and exports of arms and ammunition across the world, making it easy to explore how they relate to conflicts worldwide,” he said.

For example, in Kenya, statistics show that the country imported US$115,839 worth of ammunition from United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland.

Egypt and South Africa seem to be the highest importers and exporter of arms in the continent, with Egypt doing US$ 6.8 million imports and US$700,000 exports of ammunition while South Africa shows imports of about US$ 1 million.

The tool is user friendly as you can search for any country, or just click on it on a map. You can also zoom into any country and follow the export and import route.

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