A public blockchain runs on a series of distributed nodes. The number and location of those nodes is a good indication of the network’s censorship resistance. As the most valuable crypto-asset network, both in status and market capitalisation, we believe it is important to monitor the progress of network distribution. Distribution refers to how many copies of the bitcoin ledger there are across the world. The more distributed the history of bitcoin, the more resilient it becomes to attacks.
A node refers to any computer that is actively storing and updating the history of the Bitcoin Ledger. A node does not always represent a bitcoin miner. A miner is an entity actively participating in adding transactions. In order to mine on the bitcoin network, a miner must run a full node to know the latest state of transactions. As a consequence, there are more nodes on the bitcoin network than there are miners.
As of 31st May there are more than 9,6k nodes online across 100 countries. This number is updated to include only listening nodes, those updating their copy of the blockchain with each new transaction. The United States has the highest density of online nodes with 25%, followed closely by Germany with 20%. France and Netherlands are the only two other countries with over 500 online nodes. Despite having a significant proportion of the networks mining power, China currently has only 350 online nodes, just 4% of the total.
Node distribution alone is not sufficient to gauge censorship resistance within a network. While a high distribution increases the resilience of the ledger history, it does not affect the ability of miners to add false transactions to the chain. In order to add false transactions to the network, an entity must control at least 51% of the total power. With over 51% miners can manipulate transactions, revert them, or change the destination, enabling the same transaction to be spent twice.