How to create Country Heatmaps in R

One of the most powerful visualization tools for regional Panel data there is.

Data Import and Basic Cleaning

To begin with, we import the relevant packages, define the relevant paths and import the needed data. Note that next to the GDP (referred to as BIP in german) per state, we also import the annual inflation rate for Germany using Quandl. The Quandl API provides freely usable financial and economic datasets. In order to use the API we have to create an Account and generate an API-Key, which then has to be specified in the data-generating command.


Importing Geospatial data for Germany

After cleaning our data and bringing it into a ggplot-friendly long-format, it is now time to import geospatial data of Germany. Geospatial or spatial data contains information needed to build a map of a location, in this case Germany.


Our final plotting code has to be fine-tuned to fit the purpose of the visualization. In our case, we would like to have one heatmap for every year between 1991 and 2019. To achieve that one could run the plotting code in a loop, iterating over all years, which is also what we will do later on. For better readability though, we start by showing how to plot a single year.

Putting all together into a GIF

If we would now even like to include a time component we could also create multiple heatmaps, one for every year, and play them one after another through a GIF. For that we make use of the beautiful ImageMick package which simply takes all available images in a specified folder and converts them into a GIF.

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