Monday, March 28, 2011

Impressions from the business trip to Slovenia

Last week I had chance to visit Slovenia again. It was a two-days business trip this time. The trip was successful in business terms, but it was interesting to see Ljubljana again and compare it to my impressions from 2005, from more than five years ago.

Well, I must say that I feel quite the same about the country. It's a beautiful land with nice compact capital. Its people are hard-working yet also relaxed. Slovenian mentality in general is close to me.

As five years ago, I found quite many similarities between Estonia and Slovenia:
  • Small country, small nation;
  • Economically and socially most successful country of its kind (ex-USSR and ex-Yugoslavia respectively);
  • Despite that success, people are complaining about the standards of leaving, preferring to compare themselves to Finland or Switzerland, rather than to the countries with similar history;
  • Beautiful old town in the capital, surrounded by grey ugly buildings from Communist era (luckily, many of them have gotten a lift-up in the recent years).
These observations are quite superficial, as I have not spent too much time in Slovenia. One obvious difference is climate. While in Tallinn and Oslo it was between -2 and -5, snow laying down everywhere and me trying not to fall down on slippery roads, there was around +10 in Ljubljana, first flowers visible in parks and first days without the jacket experienced by me.

All in all, Slovenia is definitely one of few countries I could imagine myself living if I was to choose freely.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Visualising Norwegian international trade and investments

I prepared a presentation for my Norwegian class today. It is about Norwegian foreign trade and investment flows with abroad.

Having acquired statistical data from Statistical Bureau of Norway, I did a little bit of data-mining and then created quite nice visualisations of who Norway trades with, which countries Norway invests and who invests in Norway. I am known fan of visualising complicated things to make them more comprehensible. This time I used great technology developed by Hans Rosling an his team which was later bought by Google and made usable for everyone having their own Google account and knowing how to use Google Docs.

The beauty of these visualisations is that it allows to notice progression, the speed with which both international trade and international investments have grown in the past 10-12 years. It also allows to easily recognise proportions of importance of particular countries for Norway in economical terms.

Particular results which are visible there:
  • Economically, the most important are Norway's North European neighbours - Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, UK, the Netherlands (one cannot get away from USA, of course, either).
  • China's growth as one of the largest importers of the goods during past decade is impressive
  • Norway has been investing a lot into Belgium. What is the explanation behind it?..

In order to get the full overview of the time dynamics, one needs to press the "Play" button in the graphs below (down-left corner of a graph).

    Flow of international trade in Norway 1999-2010

    Flow of international investments in Norway 1998-2009