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Map: what countries around the globe see as “the greatest threat in the world”

Zack Beauchamp is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he covers ideology and challenges to democracy, both at home and abroad. Before coming to Vox in 2014, he edited TP Ideas, a section of Think Progress devoted to the ideas shaping our political world.

A recent Pew survey asked people in 44 countries to identify "the greatest threat in the world" from a list of five possible answers: religious and ethnic hatred, inequality, AIDS and other diseases, nuclear weapons, and pollution/the environment.

The maps below show which threat ranked highest in which countries. For example, Lebanon — the country most worried about religious and ethnic hatred — is on the religious and ethnic map:

greatest threat in the world

(Pew Global Attitudes Project)

Each country seems to equate the greatest threat to them or their region with the greatest global threat. So what this ends up showing, in effect, are the largest threats to each of the polled countries, according to popular opinion. And, in that sense, many of these are pretty good assessments.

Fairly developed countries, where economic inequality tends to be a problem — Western Europe, Japan, South Korea, and Argentina — tend to be worried about inequality. Ukraine and Pakistan see nukes as a big threat; both have gone to war relatively recently with adjacent nuclear powers (Russia and India). Japan, the only country to have been attacked by nuclear weapons, is still worried about them.

Middle Eastern countries tend to be more worried about ethnic and religious tensions. Rapidly developing but polluted East Asia is concerned about the environment (an unsurprising fact if you've visited Beijing or Manila). And sub-Saharan African countries, where HIV infection rates are by far the highest, often see AIDS and other diseases as the world's biggest problems. People, it turns out, are pretty good at figuring out their country and region's own biggest problems — but then they generalize those problems to the rest of the world.

The map doesn't show the results for all 44 countries in the Pew poll. That's in the table below. You'll notice the United States, for instance, is pretty evenly split between seeing religious and ethnic hatred, inequality, and nuclear weapons as the biggest threats. And there are plenty more interesting findings in the chart:

pew table greatest dangers

(Pew Global Attitudes Project)

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