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Using FORTE photodiode detector (PDD) observations of lightning, we have determined the geographic distribution of nighttime flash rate density. We estimate the PDD flash detection efficiency to be 62% for total lightning through comparison to lightning observations by the TRMM satellite's Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS), using cases in which FORTE and TRMM viewed the same storm. We present here both seasonal and total flash rate maps. We examine some characteristics of the optical emissions of lightning in both high and low flash rate environments, and find that while lightning occurs less frequently over ocean, oceanic lightning flashes are somewhat more powerful, on average, than those over land.