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Map: Here's where Nobel Prize winners come from

This week is Nobel Prize week. The first prizes have already been announced this morning for Physiology or Medicine for three researchers who determined how brains figure out where you are (in other words, brain GPS).

Because the prizes are open to anybody anywhere, questions of nationality can get interesting. The three researchers sharing this new prize are a British-American scientist and a pair from Norway (who just happen to be married, as well).

So, which countries are racking up the most Nobels? Jon Bruner at Forbes made a fascinating chart showing the distribution among the seven countries that have won the most Nobels (plus China and Japan):

Which countries have won the most Nobels?

Nobel Prizes nationalities

Click to enlarge. Bruner made this graphic in 2011 of the top seven nations, plus Japan and China. He preferentially used the location of affiliation at the time of the win, not birthplace. (Jon Bruner, Forbes)

This visualization shows a few key trends. First, there's the fall of German dominance and the rise of American dominance after World War II. Russia and the USSR also didn't become a major force until after that war.

The golden-colored string of American Nobels starting in 1970 are the economics prizes. They were a late addition (and not actually a Nobel, if you want to get technical about it). The first one wasn't awarded until 1969, which went to a Norwegian and a Dutchman (and therefore isn't on this particular chart).

But, of course, there are plenty of other countries that have also won Nobel Prizes beyond the nine listed above. The Nobel Prize website has an interesting country-of-birth interactive. (It's a slightly different metric than the country-at-time-of-award metric used on the above graphic.)

And this map interactive clearly shows that many, many countries across the world have had the honor of producing Nobel laureates. Any place not white on the screenshot below has had at least one prize:

Nobel Prize laureates place of birth


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