What is a Choropleth Map (And How Can You Use It For Business Intelligence)?

In 1832, cholera broke out in Paris. Back then, there was not a single choropleth map in plain sight.

Two years later, an official commission presented a report on the epidemic, including a shaded map. It used 5-6 shades to represent the number of losses out of every 1,000 people.

This was the first officially used choropleth. It was immediately popular, bringing its inventor prominence and a permanent place in history.

Choropleths remain useful in public health, economics, and politics. The onset of Covid-19 made them the foremost data visualization tool for informing the public. Choropleths can track everything from what sidewalk is safest to walk on to which stores have masks available.

Choropleth Map: An Explainer

A choropleth map is a data visualization tool that visually shows certain qualities within a defined geographic area.

It uses colors, patterns, shading, or symbols proportionate to statistical variables.

Choropleth maps are used to pair data with its geographic location. They only work when the data set includes location-specific data such as the zip code, county, state, or even country.

Choropleth maps are a popular way of interacting with location-specific data. Users can use them to evaluate trends within one area or for regional comparisons. Regional patterns and themes are easily seen since the data is categorized and displayed in the correct map location.

Crowd-sourced open data sets make building them more accessible.

Choropleth maps have many use cases, particularly for visualizing socioeconomic or climate data.

Common Use Cases for Choropleth Maps

Population Data

Population density is one of the most basic ways a choropleth map is used. This is a staple way to evaluate simple information quickly.

Choropleth maps are incredibly useful for more complex socioeconomic factors. They’re used to visualize issues like unemployment, crime, school performance, and religious affiliation.


Political information is often mapped out geographically. Political campaigns use it to strategize, and the media uses it for visual reporting.

Development Indicators

Choropleth maps provide an overview of location-specific economic data, such as per-capita income, household food levels, and wealth distribution.

The World Food Programme uses a choropleth to track global undernourishment and chronic hunger levels.

Public Health

Public Health relies on choropleth maps as a core tool. Regional life expectancy, health outcomes, risk factors, health disparities, birth weight, and general conditions need to be mapped out.

Currently, choropleth maps are heavily relied on for visualizing up-to-date Covid-19 information. Publicly available choropleths use machine learning to analyze real-time, globally sourced information. Research organizations, scientists, medical professionals, public health officials, journalists, and the public can access this for their purposes.

When combined with cloud-connected medical devices, people can monitor real-time public health. Health tech companies use choropleths to display their user results. Medtech devices that monitor fevers create real-time hot spot choropleths.

Alternatively, choropleths help manage medical overflow by showing areas of reduced activity.

Weather, Climate, and Land

Choropleth maps generate informative reports from statistics like rainfall distribution, soil condition, per capita crop production, forest cover, recreational land availability, plant biodiversity.

They can also show the effects of weather across populations.

Sentiment and Psychology

We can geographically map out the sentiment thanks to artificial intelligence, machine learning, and public social media.

This can enhance political campaigns, support marketing, and monitor for bots.

Benefits of a Choropleth Map

Choropleth maps have several benefits that stakeholders may find in handy for certain situations. Here are some of those advantages:

  • User Friendly: Choropleth maps are easy to use, interactive, and fun. This makes them quite commonplace, and most people are already familiar with them. The information is generally clear.
  • Comparing Area Differences. Choropleth maps excel when there are clear differences between areas.
  • Contrasting Data: High impact contrasts in the overall data set can easily be seen.
  • Summarizing: A choropleth map will give a concise overview of when large geographical swaths need to be evaluated.

Disadvantages of a Choropleth Map

Drawbacks of choropleth maps come from critical data evaluation to arbitrary boundaries, along with how variable the represented conclusions can be.

  • Artificial Data Representations. The biggest limitation is how unrealistic it is to restrict data within set boundaries. When mapped results are artificially cut off, we can draw incorrect assumptions. We all know that we can’t always represent age demographics well in choropleth maps.
  • Misrepresented Impact. If a single color represents a single data value, larger areas can be perceived as more dominant than smaller areas with the same representation.
  • Subjectivity: Data for choropleth maps can be classified in many ways. Each classification type will influence how the data is perceived. The person who prepares the map has a great deal of control over its interpretation. The mapmaker can easily create false data portrayals.
  • Over-Generalization: These maps aren’t great at showing small variable differences, distinguishing fluctuations, or providing total values. They also aren’t good choices for conducting detailed analysis.
  • Visual Difficulties. Choropleth maps can be hard to read if the colors and shades are too similar. The visually impaired may not be able to use them at all.

How Can DashboardFox Help With Your Choropleth Map Needs?

Here’s the good news, DashboardFox includes the ability to create Choropleth maps!

Example of a Choropleth map in DashboardFox

Out of the box, DashboardFox includes many types of maps from all over the world, and if your region is not available, a simple message to our support team can typically get it added quickly.

As with the rest of DashboardFox, the ability to create a Choropleth map is codeless. Via our config panel, you can define your colors, you can define value ranges to color codes if desired, and you can define hover reports to show users specific statistics when they hover over a portion of the map, as well as drill-down reports if a user clicks on a specific map. DashboardFox even supports country-level to state map drill-downs (for the US).

Once created, maps can be included in dashboards, scheduled, shared via public view links, and all the other features included in DashboardFox apply.

Compared to its counterparts in the market today, DashboardFox might have the shorter end of the stick when it comes to built-in visualizations. Still, we think this is a positive because we focus on a core set of graphs and charts that everyone in the industry can easily understand.

DashboardFox’s simple and no-frills approach is proven to be sustainable and efficient in the long run, as it helps save you time, money, and manpower.

Feel free to reach out to us, or better yet, we can give you a free live demo to see what wonders we can contribute to your business without all the frills and fringes. After all, fringe is already out of fashion.

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