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In the sequence above, we can see that China has become much brighter over the years, while Japan stayed roughly the same. This impression is also supported by a quantitative view of the total radiance per country. China's increase in brighness is unmatched by other countries in the region.
But of course China is a large country. If we normalize radiance by country size, we get a different picture. Countries such as Japan or Korea have a much higher percentage of their area illuminated.
While the composites from the DMSP night lights data set indicates where people live, the strongest correlation exists with economic development.