October 4, 2013

Chart of the Week: The world’s most popular web sites


Search engines and social networks rule the online world pretty much everywhere you look. But while Google and Facebook dominate in most of the world, several countries — notably China, Russia and their neighbors — have resisted their hegemony.

This map, developed by two researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute, uses Internet traffic data from Alexa to determine each country’s most-visited website; each country is scaled to reflect how many Internet users it has. Google was the most-visited site throughout most of North America, Europe, south Asia and Australasia, while Facebook predominates in the Spanish-speaking parts of the America, the Middle East and North Africa.

But beyond those two Internet giants, other companies — often with overt or implicit aid from their national governments — have carved out their own bastions. Baidu is the most-used search engine not only in its home country of China but apparently in South Korea too (though the Oxford researchers express some skepticism about that). Yahoo! Japan leads in that country; Yahoo! also is the most-visited site in Taiwan (though it announced earlier this year that it will shut down the Taiwanese blogging site Wretch it bought six years ago).

Yandex is the most-visited site in Russia, with about three-fifths of that country’s search traffic. Social-networking service VK (formerly known as VKontakte) is especially popular among Russian speakers and is the leading site in Belarus; email service Mail.ru is the leader in Kazakhstan.

Nonetheless, Google’s reach is even greater than the map shows. As the Oxford researchers note, among the 50 countries where Facebook is listed as the most-visited visited site, Google is the second-most visited in 36; the remaining 14 countries list YouTube, which Google has owned since 2006.

(Special thanks to data-visualization blog FlowingData, where we first saw this map.)

Category: Chart of the Week

Topics: Social Networking, Internet Activities

  1. Photo of Drew DeSilver

    is a senior writer at Pew Research Center.


  1. WTF!3 years ago

    definitely not baidu in korea LOLLLL

  2. Kousha3 years ago

    The researchers have not enough knowledge about country borders. Borders of Iran, Iraq and Pakistan are absolutely wrong in this map. Just take a look how Iran and Iraq are in a real map! and what they have shown in this map. It is required to just check a map before publishing something like this.

  3. Yongrok4 years ago

    The result about Korea is pretty pretty ridiculous. Korean people do not even understand Chinese language. How can they use Baidu which is written in Chinese.

    The research get wrong samples, and it leads very biased result.

  4. Susan Hallam4 years ago

    This chart reflects the problem of what is known as a “self-selecting sample” – in other words, this survey is only measuring users with an Alexa browser extension installed. These users are going to be Internet savvy, and likely to be geeks working in the Internet industry.

    I love the graphical representation, but I would not assume this is representative of the general population.

  5. Paul4 years ago

    Is it possible that a large population of Chinese in China looking to circumvent their political firewall are using a South Korean VPN?

  6. Sean Jung4 years ago

    No wonder why researchers in Oxford are skeptistic about the result in South Korea!!
    I lived in Seoul for more than 14yrs in a raw until now, and I found no one that uses Baidu except for whom those speak and use Chinese. The most frequent users of Baidu are Chinese students in South Korea. I say this study contains some misguided information.

  7. David Lee4 years ago

    There is 100%, absolutely no way at all that Baidu is #1 in Korea.

    Maybe they used Alexa data? alexa.com/topsites/countries/KR

    Alexa’s data is obviously structurally flawed–there are way too many Chinese-only language sites in that list. I’d estimate that easily less than 1% of Koreans are Chinese literate.

    There has got to be some sort of measurement error involved in Alexa’s data.

  8. DeJesus Morrobel4 years ago

    Well, facebook speaks spanish. But, it makes me wonder where the whole billion claimed users are from. It is should concentrate on better aiding Latin America.