May 25, 2022

Reference and Data Visualization: The Online Atlas of Economic Complexity

The Online Atlas of Economic Complexity is made available online by way of a collaboration between the Center for International Development (CID), a university-wide research center housed at the Harvard Kennedy School and the MIT Media Lab Macro Connections group.

From the Atlas:

The Atlas online is a powerful interactive tool that enables users to visualize a country’s total trade, track how these dynamics change over time and explore growth opportunities for more than a hundred countries worldwide.

The Atlas is used by investors, entrepreneurs, policymakers, students and the general public to better understand the competitive landscape of countries around the globe. For any given country, The Atlas shows which products are produced and exported; The Atlas can then use this information to suggest products a country could begin manufacturing in order to fuel economic growth. As a dynamic resource, The Atlas is continually evolving with new data and features to help analyze economic growth and development.

The Atlas can answer questions such as:

  • What does a country import and export?
  • How has its trade evolved over time?
  • What are the drivers of export growth?
  • Which new industries are likely to emerge in a given geography? Which are likely to disappear?
  • What are the GDP growth prospects of a given country in the next 5-10 years, based on its productive capabilities

The Atlas online provides access to bilateral trade data for roughly 200 countries spanning 50 years and across 1000 different products, using the Standardized International Trade Code at the four-digit level (SITC-4) revision 2 classification. The Atlas online also provides world trade data in the Harmonized System Classification (HS4) maintained by the Centre d’Etudes Prospectives et d’Informations Internationales (CEPII) dating back to 1995. The sources of the data used are:

The online atlas is published using a Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License.

Direct to Online Atlas

Note: Another interface to the database is available from The Observatory of Economic Complexity at MIT Media Lab.

An API is available.

Note:  The Atlas of Economic Complexity – The Book is available online and/or for purchase from MIT Press
The 2011 version can be downloaded at no charge. The 2014 version is available for purchase. Details here. 

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.