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World human population estimates from 1800 to 2100, with estimated range of future population after 2020 based on "high" and "low" scenarios. Data from the United Nations projections in 2019.
Population growth graph[1]
World population percentage by country

In demographics, the world population is the total number of humans currently living, and was estimated to have reached 7,800,000,000 people as of March 2020.[2][3] It took over 2 million years of human history for the world's population to reach 1 billion,[4] and only 200 years more to reach 7 billion.[5]

The world population has experienced continuous growth following the Great Famine of 1315–1317 and the end of the Black Death in 1350, when it was near 370 million.[6] The highest global population growth rates, with increases of over 1.8% per year, occurred between 1955 and 1975 – peaking to 2.1% between 1965 and 1970.[7] The growth rate declined to 1.2% between 2010 and 2015 and is projected to decline further in the course of the 21st century.[7] However, the global population is still increasing[8] and is projected to reach about 10 billion in 2050 and more than 11 billion in 2100.[9]

Total annual births were highest in the late 1980s at about 139 million,[10] and as of 2011 were expected to remain essentially constant at a level of 135 million,[11] while deaths numbered 56 million per year and were expected to increase to 80 million per year by 2040.[12] The median age of the world's population was e

World human population estimates from 1800 to 2100, with estimated range of future population after 2020 based on "high" and "low" scenarios. Data from the United Nations projections in 2019.
In demographics, the world population is the total number of humans currently living, and was estimated to have reached 7,800,000,000 people as of March 2020.[2][3] It took over 2 million years of human history for the world's population to reach 1 billion,[4] and only 200 years more to reach 7 billion.[5]

The world population has experienced continuous growth following the Great Famine of 1315–1317 and the end of the Black Death in 1350, when it was near 370 million.[6] The highest global population growth rates, with increases of over 1.8% per year, occurred between 1955 and 1975 – peaking to 2.1% between 1965 and 1970.[7] The growth rate declined to 1.2% between 2010 and 2015 and is projected to decline further in the course of the 21st century.[7] However, the global population is still increasing[8] and is projected to reach about 10 billion in 2050 and more than 11 billion in 2100.[9]

Total annual births were highest in the late 1980s at about 139 million,[10] and as of 2011 were expected to remain essentially constant at a level of 135 million,[11] while deaths numbered 56 million per year and were expected to increase to 80 million per year by 2040.[12] The median age of the world's population was estimated to be 30.4 years in 2018.[13]

World population (millions, UN estimates)[14]
# Top ten most populous countries 2000 2015 2030[A]
1 Chinacontinuous growth following the Great Famine of 1315–1317 and the end of the Black Death in 1350, when it was near 370 million.[6] The highest global population growth rates, with increases of over 1.8% per year, occurred between 1955 and 1975 – peaking to 2.1% between 1965 and 1970.[7] The growth rate declined to 1.2% between 2010 and 2015 and is projected to decline further in the course of the 21st century.[7] However, the global population is still increasing[8] and is projected to reach about 10 billion in 2050 and more than 11 billion in 2100.[9]

Total annual births were highest in the late 1980s at about 139 million,[10] and as of 2011 were expected to remain essentially constant at a level of 135 million,[11] while deaths numbered 56 million per year and were expected to increase to 80 million per year by 2040.[12] The median age of the world's population was estimated to be 30.4 years in 2018.[13]

Six of the Earth's seven continents are permanently inhabited on a large scale. Asia is the most populous continent, with its 4.64 billion inhabitants accounting for 60% of the world population. The world's two most populated countries, China and India, together constitute about 36% of the world's population. Africa is the second most populated continent, with around 1.34 billion people, or 17% of the world's population. Europe's 747 million people make up 10% of the world's population as of 2020, while the Latin American and Caribbean regions are home to around 653 million (8%). Northern America, primarily consisting of the United States and Canada, has a population of around 368 million (5%), and Oceania, the least populated region, has about 42 million inhabitants (0.5%).[15] Antarctica only has a very small, fluctuating population of about 1200 people based mainly in polar science stations.[16]

Population by continent

Population by continent (2020 estimates)
Continent Density
(inhabitants/km2)
Population
(millions)
Most populous country Most populous city (metropolitan area)
Asia 104.1 4,641 1,439,323,000[note 1] China 37,393,000/13,929,000 – Japan Greater Tokyo Area/Tokyo Metropolis
Africa 44.4 1,340 0206,139,000 –  Nigeria 20,900,000 – Egypt Cairo[17]
Europe 73.4 747 0145,934,000 –  Russia;
approx. 110 million in Europe
16,855,000/12,537,000 – Russia Moscow metropolitan area/Moscow[18]
South America 24.1 430 0212,559,000 –  Brazil 22,043,000/12,176,000 – Brazil São Paulo Metro Area/São Paulo City
North America[note 2] 14.9 368 0331,002,000 –  United States 23,724,000/8,323,000 – United States New York metropolitan area/New York City
Oceania 5 42 0025,499,000 –  Australia 4,925,000 – Australia Sydney
Antarctica ~0 0.004[16] N/A[note 3] 1,258 – McMurdo Station

History

Estimates of world population by their nature are an aspect of modernity, possible only since the Age of Discovery. Early estimates for the population of the world[19] date to the 17th century: William Petty in 1682 estimated world population at 320 million (modern estimates ranging close to twice this number); by the late 18th century, estimates ranged close to one billion (consistent with modern estimates).[20] More refined estimates, broken down by continents, were published in the first half of the 19th century, at 600 million to 1 billion in the early 1800s and at 800 million to 1 billion in the 1840s.[21]

It is difficult for estimates to be better than rough approximations, as even modern population estimates are fraught with uncertainties on the order of 3% to 5%.[22]

Ancient and post-classical history

Estimates of the population of the world at the time agriculture emerged in around 10,000 BC have ranged between 1 million and 15 million.[23][24] Even earlier, genetic evidence suggests humans may have gone through a population bottleneck of between 1,000 and 10,000 people about 70,000 BC, according to the Toba catastrophe theory. By contrast, it is estimated that around 50–60 million people lived in the combined eastern and western Roman Empire in the 4th century AD.[25]

The Plague of Justinian, which first emerged during the reign of the Roman emperor Justinian, caused Europe's population to drop by around 50% between the 6th and 8th centuries AD.[26] The population of Europe was more than 70 million in 1340.[27] The Black Death pandemic of the 14th century may have reduced the world's population from an estimated 450 million in 1340 to between 350 and 375 million in 1400;[28] it took 200 years for population figures to recover.[29] The population of China decreased from 123 million in 1200 to 65 million in 1393,[30] presumably from a combination of Mongol invasions, famine, and plague.[31]

Starting in AD 2, the Han Dynasty of Estimates of world population by their nature are an aspect of modernity, possible only since the Age of Discovery. Early estimates for the population of the world[19] date to the 17th century: William Petty in 1682 estimated world population at 320 million (modern estimates ranging close to twice this number); by the late 18th century, estimates ranged close to one billion (consistent with modern estimates).[20] More refined estimates, broken down by continents, were published in the first half of the 19th century, at 600 million to 1 billion in the early 1800s and at 800 million to 1 billion in the 1840s.[21]

It is difficult for estimates to be better than rough approximations, as even modern population estimates are fraught with uncertainties on the order of 3% to 5%.[22]

Ancient and post-classical history

Estimates of the population of the world at the time agriculture emerged in around 10,000 BC have ranged between 1 million and 15 million.[23][24] Even earlier, genetic evidence suggests humans may have gone through a population bottleneck of between 1,000 and 10,000 people about 70,000 BC, according to the Toba catastrophe theory. By contrast, it is estimated that around 50–60 million people lived in the combined eastern and western Roman Empire in the 4th century AD.[25]

The Plague of Justinian, which first emerged during the reign of the Roman emperor Justinian, caused Europe's population to drop by around 50% between the 6th and 8th centuries AD.[26] The population of Europe was more than 70 million in 1340.[27] The Black Death pandemic of the 14th century may have reduced the world's population from an estimated 450 million in 1340 to between 350 and 375 million in 1400;[28] it took 200 years for population figures to recover.[29] The population of China decreased from 123 million in 1200 to 65 million in 1393,[30] presumably from a combination of Mongol invasions, famine, and plague.[31]

Starting in AD 2, the Han Dynasty of ancient China kept consistent family registers in order to properly assess the poll taxes and labor service duties of each household.[32] In that year, the population of Western Han was recorded as 57,671,400 individuals in 12,366,470 households, decreasing to 47,566,772 individuals in 9,348,227 households by AD 146, towards the End of the Han Dynasty.[32] At the founding of the Ming Dynasty in 1368, China's population was reported to be close to 60 million; toward the end of the dynasty in 1644, it may have approached 150 million.[33] England's population reached an estimated 5.6 million in 1650, up from an estimated 2.6 million in 1500.[34] New crops that were brought to Asia and Europe from the Americas by Portuguese and Spanish colonists in the 16th century are believed to have contributed to population growth.[35][36][37] Since their introduction to Africa by Portuguese traders in the 16th century,[38] maize and cassava have similarly replaced traditional African crops as the most important staple food crops grown on the continent.[39]

The pre-Columbian population of the Americas is uncertain; historian David Henige called it "the most unanswerable question in the world."[40] By the end of the 20th century, scholarly consensus favored an estimate of roughly 55 million people, but numbers from various sources have ranged from 10 million to 100 million.[41] Encounters between European explorers and populations in the rest of the world often introduced local epidemics of extraordinary virulence.[42] According to the most extreme scholarly claims, as many as 90% of the Native American population of the New World died of Old World diseases such as smallpox, measles, and influenza.[43] Over the centuries, the Europeans had developed high degrees of immunity to these diseases, while the indigenous peoples had no such immunity.[44]

Modern history

Map showing urban areas with at least one million inhabitants in 2006. Only 3% of the world's population lived in urban areas in 1800; this proportion had risen to 47% by 2000, and reached 50.5% by 2010.[45] By 2050, the proportion may reach 70%.[46]

During the European Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, the life expectancy of children increased dramatically.[47] The percentage of the children born in London who died before the age of five decreased from 74.5% in 1730–1749 to 31.8% in 1810–1829.[48][49] Between 1700 and 1900, Europe's population increased from about 100 million to over 400 million.[50] Altogether, the areas populated by people of European descent comprised 36% of the world's population in 1900.[51]

Population growth in the West became more rapid after the introduction of vaccination and other improvements in medicine and sanitation.[52] Improved material conditions led to the population of Britain increasing from 10 million to 40 million in the 19th century.[53] The population of the United Kingdom reached 60 million in 2006.[54] The United States saw its population grow from around 5.3 million in 1800 to 106 million in 1920, exceeding 307 million in 2010.[55]

The first half of the 20th century in Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union was marked by a succession of major wars, famines and other disasters which caused large-scale popul

It is difficult for estimates to be better than rough approximations, as even modern population estimates are fraught with uncertainties on the order of 3% to 5%.[22]

Estimates of the population of the world at the time agriculture emerged in around 10,000 BC have ranged between 1 million and 15 million.[23][24] Even earlier, genetic evidence suggests humans may have gone through a population bottleneck of between 1,000 and 10,000 people about 70,000 BC, according to the Toba catastrophe theory. By contrast, it is estimated that around 50–60 million people lived in the combined eastern and western Roman Empire in the 4th century AD.[25]

The Plague of Justinian, which first emerged during the reign of the Roman emperor Justinian, caused Europe's population to drop by around 50% between the 6th and 8th centuries AD.The Plague of Justinian, which first emerged during the reign of the Roman emperor Justinian, caused Europe's population to drop by around 50% between the 6th and 8th centuries AD.[26] The population of Europe was more than 70 million in 1340.[27] The Black Death pandemic of the 14th century may have reduced the world's population from an estimated 450 million in 1340 to between 350 and 375 million in 1400;[28] it took 200 years for population figures to recover.[29] The population of China decreased from 123 million in 1200 to 65 million in 1393,[30] presumably from a combination of Mongol invasions, famine, and plague.[31]

Starting in AD 2, the Han Dynasty of ancient China kept consistent family registers in order to properly assess the poll taxes and labor service duties of each household.[32] In that year, the population of Western Han was recorded as 57,671,400 individuals in 12,366,470 households, decreasing to 47,566,772 individuals in 9,348,227 households by AD 146, towards the End of the Han Dynasty.[32] At the founding of the Ming Dynasty in 1368, China's population was reported to be close to 60 million; toward the end of the dynasty in 1644, it may have approached 150 million.[33] England's population reached an estimated 5.6 million in 1650, up from an estimated 2.6 million in 1500.[34] New crops that were brought to Asia and Europe from the Americas by Portuguese and Spanish colonists in the 16th century are believed to have contributed to population growth.[35][36][37] Since their introduction to Africa by Portuguese traders in the 16th century,[38] maize and cassava have similarly replaced traditional African crops as the most important staple food crops grown on the continent.[39]

The pre-Columbian population of the Americas is uncertain; historian David Henige called it "the most unanswerable question in the world."[40] By the end of the 20th century, scholarly consensus favored an estimate of roughly 55 million people, but numbers from various sources have ranged from 10 million to 100 million.[41] Encounters between European explorers and populations in the rest of the world often introduced local epidemics of extraordinary virulence.[42] According to the most extreme scholarly claims, as many as 90% of the Native American population of the New World died of Old World diseases such as smallpox, measles, and influenza.[43] Over the centuries, the Europeans had developed high degrees of immunity to these diseases, while the indigenous peoples had no such immunity.[44]

During the European Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, the life expectancy of children increased dramatically.[47] The percentage of the children born in London who died before the age of five decreased from 74.5% in 1730–1749 to 31.8% in 1810–1829.[48][49] Between 1700 and 1900, Europe's population increased from about 100 million to over 400 million.[50] Altogether, the areas populated by people of European descent comprised 36% of the world's population in 1900.[51]

Population growth in the West became more rapid after the introduction of vaccination and other improvements in medicine and sanitation.[52] Improved material conditions led to the population of Britain increasing from 10 million to 40 million in the 19th century.[53] The population of the United Kingdom reached 60 million in 2006.[54] The United States saw its population grow from around 5.3 million in 1800 to 106 million in 1920, exceeding 307 million in 2010.[55]

The first half of the 20th century in Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union was marked by a succession of major wars, famines and other disasters which caused large-scale population losses (appro

Population growth in the West became more rapid after the introduction of vaccination and other improvements in medicine and sanitation.[52] Improved material conditions led to the population of Britain increasing from 10 million to 40 million in the 19th century.[53] The population of the United Kingdom reached 60 million in 2006.[54] The United States saw its population grow from around 5.3 million in 1800 to 106 million in 1920, exceeding 307 million in 2010.[55]

The first half of the 20th century in Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union was marked by a succession of major wars, famines and other disasters which caused large-scale population losses (approximately 60 million excess deaths).[56][57] After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia's population declined significantly – from 150 million in 1991 to 143 million in 2012[58] – but by 2013 this decline appeared to have halted.[59]

Many countries in the developing world have experienced extremely rapid population growth since the early 20th century, due to economic development and improvements in public health. China's population rose from approximately 430 million in 1850 to 580 million in 1953,[60] and now stands at over 1.3 billion. The population of the Indian subcontinent, which was about 125 million in 1750, increased to 389 million in 1941;[61] today, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are collectively home to about 1.63 billion people.[62] Java had about 5 million inhabitants in 1815; its present-day successor, Indonesia, now has a population of over 140 million.[63] In just one hundred years, the population of Brazil decupled (x10), from about 17 million in 1900, or about 1% of the world population in that year, to about 176 million in 2000, or almost 3% of the global population in the very early 21st century. Mexico's population grew from 13.6 million in 1900 to about 112 million in 2010.[64][65] Between the 1920s and 2000s, Kenya's population grew from 2.9 million to 37 million.[66]

It is estimated that the world population reached one billion for the first time in 1804. It was another 123 years before it reached two billion in 1927, but it took only 33 years to reach three billion in 1960.[67] Thereafter, the global population reached four billion in 1974, five billion in 1987, six billion in 1999 and, according to the United States Census Bureau, seven billion in March 2012.[68] The United Nations, however, estimated that the world population reached seven billion in October 2011.[69][70][71]

According to current projections, the global population will reach eight billion by 2024, and is likely to reach around nine billion by 2042. Alternative scenarios for 2050 range from a low of 7.4 billion to a high of more than 10.6 billion.[72] Projected figures vary depending on underlying statistical assumptions and the variables used in projection calculations, especially the fertility variable. Long-range predictions to 2150 range from a population decline to 3.2 billion in the "low scenario", to "high scenarios" of 24.8 billion.[72] One extreme scenario predicted a massive increase to 256 billion by 2150, assuming the global fertility rate remained at its 1995 level

According to current projections, the global population will reach eight billion by 2024, and is likely to reach around nine billion by 2042. Alternative scenarios for 2050 range from a low of 7.4 billion to a high of more than 10.6 billion.[72] Projected figures vary depending on underlying statistical assumptions and the variables used in projection calculations, especially the fertility variable. Long-range predictions to 2150 range from a population decline to 3.2 billion in the "low scenario", to "high scenarios" of 24.8 billion.[72] One extreme scenario predicted a massive increase to 256 billion by 2150, assuming the global fertility rate remained at its 1995 level of 3.04 children per woman; however, by 2010 the global fertility rate had declined to 2.52.[73][74]

There is no estimation for the exact day or month the world's population surpassed one or two billion. The points at which it reached three and four billion were not officially noted, but the International Database of the United States Census Bureau placed them in July 1959 and April 1974 respectively. The United Nations did determine, and commemorate, the "Day of 5 Billion" on 11 July 1987, and the "Day of 6 Billion" on 12 October 1999. The Population Division of the United Nations declared the "Day of 7 Billion" to be 31 October 2011.[75][needs update]

As of 2012, the global sex ratio is approximately 1.01 males to 1 female. The greater number of men is possibly due to the significant sex imbalances evident in the Indian and Chinese populations.[77][78] Approximately 26.3% of the global population is aged under 15, while 65.9% is aged 15–64 and 7.9% is aged 65 or over.[77] The median age of the world's population was estimated to be 29.7 years in 2014,[79] and is expected to rise to 37.9 years by 2050.[80]

According to the World Health Organization, the global average life expectancy is 71.4 years as of 2015, with women living an average of 74 years and men approximately 69 years.[76] In 2010, the global fertility rate was estimated at 2.52 children per woman.[74] In June 2012, British researchers calculated the total weight of Earth's human population as approximately 287 million tonnes, with the average person weighing around 62 kilograms (137 lb).[81]

The CIA estimated nominal 2013 gross world product at US$74.31 trillion, giving an annual global per capita figure of around US$10,500.[82] Around 1.29 billion people (18.4% of the world population) live in extreme poverty, subsisting on less than US$1.25 per day;[83] approximately 870 million people (12.3%) are undernourished.[84] 83% of the world's over-15s are considered literate.[77] In June 2014, there were around 3.03 billion global Internet users, constituting 42.3% of the world population.[85]

The Han Chinese are the world's largest single ethnic group, constituting over 19% of the global population in 2011.[86] The world's most-spoken first languages are Mandarin Chinese (spoken by 12.4% of the world's population), Spanish (4.9%), English (4.8%), Arabic (3.3%) and Hindi (2.7%).[77] The world's largest religion is Christianity, whose adherents account for 31.4% of the global population;[87] Islam is the second-largest religion, accounting for 24.1%, and Hinduism the third, accounting for 13.8%.[77] In 2005, around 16% of the global population were reported to be non-religious.[88]

Largest populations by country