Introducing the Spotlight

The United Nations Headquarters in New York. || Shutterstock

The United Nations Headquarters in New York. || Shutterstock

The Spotlight is an international feature, each week focusing on a country that has been making global headlines lately. Every country that is covered will include discussions on its most pressing issues domestically and globally. There will be more light-hearted topics, as the Spotlight will also cover the most interesting aspects of every country's culture as well.

When articles are published on IONA Exchange, any article that covers countries that have made the Spotlight, they will also be posted on that respective country's Spotlight feature.

Historical Background

This section contains a summary of the history affiliated with a country and its peoples. The main goal of this section is to show how that country's major events plays into the larger narrative of world history, and how those stories explain their interactions with the rest of the world.

Current Events

This section then takes a closer look on the major events of a country in recent years. Topics usually include economic performance, domestic policy issues, and its relations with different international actors in its region.


This section will briefly describe how the government of a country works, such as the structure of government, its leaders, and period between elections. To learn more on the different forms of government mentioned in this section, check out this explainer on the characteristics of most governmental systems today. 


This section is a summary of a country's customs, culture, and media networks. Topics discussed include media platforms citizens have access to, prominent cultural figures, and distinctive traditions of that country. 


The profile is an infographic presents quick facts on a country's economy and politics. An example of a country's profile can be found below, plus a handy guide on how to interpret the information and the sources we use.


POPULATION 35,852,000
1 Toronto 2,732,000
2 Montreal 1,705,000
3 Calgary 1,239,000
4 Ottawa ★ 934,000
5 Edmonton 932,000
6 Missisauga 722,000
Nominal GDP $1,550,536,520,000
Per Capita GDP $43,249


Human Development
; .913
Economic Freedom
; .780
Inequality (Gini Coefficient)
; .337


Political Freedom
; 99
Press Freedom
; 18
Perceived Corruption
; 82


22% Mineral Products $86B
19% Transportation $75B
11% Machines $43B
8% Metals $31B
8% Chemical Products $30B



Population and GDP

All figures on country population and GDP are from the World Bank. The figures on city population are mostly estimates sourced from census data from the countries' respective governments. The purpose of the city population figures are just to show the country's capital and five largest cities.


Many economic or political indices are provided to show how various international organizations or think tanks evaluate the well-being of a country. On the infographic, the longer the bar, the more favourable the country has scored on that index.

  • The Human Development Index is the United Nations' measurement of standard of living and the index is a combination of GDP per capita, life expectancy, and education
  • The Index of Economic Freedom is published annually by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, measuring the degree of freedom individuals have to pursue their economic interests in a country
  • The gini coefficient shows the degree of economic inequality in the country. A figure of 1 shows perfect inequality while 0 shows perfect equality. The figures used in this graphic are the latest data from the World Bank
  • The figures on political freedom are taken from Freedom in the World, an annual survey by Freedom House that determine the degree of political freedom an individual has in a country
  • The figures on press freedom is from Freedom of the Press, a similar study also by Freedom House, this time on the freedom the press operates, and the amount of accessible information in a country
  • The figures on perceived corruption are taken from the Corruption Perceptions Index, an annual index by Transparency International that estimates how corrupt is a country's government. A score of 100 means very clean, while 0 means very corrupt


In this section, the top five exporting sectors of that country's economy are listed. Data is sourced from the Observatory of Economic Complexity by MIT. 


The two graphs at the bottom show the country's population and economic growth from 1990 to 2015. All data is also from the World Bank.