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The huge changes in international piracy, in one map

There's good news and bad news in the fight against maritime piracy.

Good news first: pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia are way down. On this map, the red dots represent pirate attacks in 2014 thus far, while the blue dots are attacks from 2010. Lots of blue dots off Somalia, very few red ones — that's progress! The bad news, however, is that attacks in West Africa have grown more frequent during the same period:

Piracy map

(The Economist)

According to the International Maritime Bureau, the decrease in Somali piracy reflects the combined impact of a number of different interventions, including international naval patrols, the hardening of ships against attack, private security forces hired by shipping companies, and the Somali central government's improvements to law and order.

However, those efforts have not been replicated in West Africa, where piracy is on an upswing, driven by smuggling in the Nigerian oil market. And The Economist reports that analysts expect that to get worse in the run-up to Nigerian presidential elections this February, as politicians use the profits from oil smuggling to finance their campaigns.

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