Global terror related deaths visualized from 1970 to 2016


I came across the data set on terrorism at Kaggle, and while it does illustrate a gruesome reality it provides insight into an aspect of modern society that a lot of people fear. I tried to make the analysis as simple and easily understood as possible and essentially what I wanted to know/show was whether the threat of terrorism has gone up significantly in the last years or not. The map below shows the evolution of the yearly deaths as a results of terrorism around the world, do note that “No terrorist attacks” encompasses all unreported/unclassified terrorist attacks.

The graph above clearly shows that the total deaths due to terrorism have gone up, especially after the early 2000. However as regions around the world have been vastly differently affected by terrorism it does not tell the whole story. I have therefore broken my analysis out into the following 8 regions: The Greater Middle East (GME), Africa, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia North America, South America, and Oceania.

As we can see what really drives overall growth in terrorism stems mainly from acts of terrorism in the GME, this is especially the case after 2001, a potential reason could be the several wars and civil wars that have been heavily destabilizing the region.

A  noteworthy observation is that terrorism in Western Europe have gone down quite significantly since the early 90’ies, potentially driven by the resolution of the NRA conflict in Northern Ireland, the disappearance of RAF and similar groups in addition to the fact that aircraft hijackings have almost disappeared. The US remains virtually unchanged, and everything pales in comparison to the 9/11 attack in 2001 which remains a significant outlier.

Despite a reduction in terror related deaths in Western Europe media coverage has increased significantly over the last four decades, partly driven by national terror attacks receiving media coverage across the majority of European countries. This is especially true for terrorist attacks perpetrated by Muslims which according to new research receive more than 350% more media coverage compared to attacks committed by non-Muslims.


University of Maryland, Global Terrorism Database

Why Do Some Terrorist Attacks Receive More Media Attention Than Others?” by Kearns, Betus and Lemieux