As of 2022, there are 7.9 billion people living on Earth — an especially astounding fact when you consider that a little over two centuries ago, the planet crossed the 1 billion mark for the first time. Studying global population trends isn’t just a fascinating endeavor — understanding the growth (or decline) in the Earth’s populations helps researchers to better predict conditions in the future. From the most-populated continent to a municipality with just one person, here are 13 fascinating world population facts that may surprise you.
Although the Earth’s hemispheres are equal in geographic size, the Earth’s population is not divided similarly. Roughly 90% of Earth’s human population lives in the Northern Hemisphere, which also accounts for most of the planet's landmass. The Northern Hemisphere is made up of 39.3% land (the rest is ocean) and also contains many of the world’s most-populated cities, while the Southern Hemisphere only is 19.1% land.
Earth’s continents are similarly unequal in population distribution — it’s estimated that 60% of Earth’s population (4.7 billion people) lives in Asia. Made up of 48 countries, Asia is also home to the two most populous nations in the world, China and India. China is estimated to currently have 1.44 billion people living in the country, while India is not far behind with an estimated 1.40 billion residents. Together, the two countries account for over half of Asia’s total population.
China and India may be the nations with the highest population, but Japan is home to the most populated city. In 2022, the population of the Tokyo metropolitan area is estimated to be an astounding 37.7 million people, with 13.96 million living in the city itself. To compare, greater Tokyo’s population is almost equivalent to the total sum of the 25 most populated cities in the U.S., which adds up to 37.8 million people. It’s also 1.5 times larger than the next most populous metro area, Seoul.
Monaco may be the second-smallest country by geographical size, but it does have the world’s densest population. With a population of 39,000 people spread across just three-quarters of a square mile, Monaco has a population density of about 50,000 people per square mile. If you were to consider both independent countries and territories, the Chinese territory of Macau is even more dense, with over 51,000 people per square mile.
California might be the most-populated state in the U.S., but Texas is home to the most populated ZIP code. The Texan ZIP code of 77449 has a population of 128,294 people and belongs to Katy, Texas, a suburb located 30 miles west of Houston. Interestingly, the second most-populated ZIP code in the states also belongs to Katy, with 118,291 residents in the 77494 ZIP code. Five of the top 10 ZIP codes by population are located in the Lone Star State.
Although the archipelago of Indonesia has a total of 17,508 islands, more than half of the nation's total population resides on the island of Java. Home to the capital city of Jakarta, Java is the most-populated island in the world, with 145 million residents. To put that into context, that’s 17 times more people than all of New York’s five boroughs, which are home to a total of 8.4 million people.
In the lonesome grasslands of Nebraska near the South Dakota border lies the municipality of Monowi. The town’s sole resident is Elsie Eiler, a woman in her 80s who is the town’s mayor, clerk, librarian, and treasurer. As Monowi is an incorporated town for the purposes of the U.S. Census, Eiler receives state funding for municipal road work. However, she has to raise her own funds for the town’s taxes to pay for the street lighting and water.
Women account for 54.5% of the total population in Nepal, with roughly 2 million more women than men in the South Asian country. One of the primary causes of this high population rate is the country’s life expectancy, with Nepalese women typically outliving Nepalese men. Another reason is the fact that Nepalese men often move abroad for work, while the women usually stay at home.
In the last U.S. Census, Wyoming remained the least populated state in the U.S., with a population of approximately 580,000 residents. The state’s most populous city is Cheyenne, home to about 65,000 people, while the town of Owl Creek has the lowest population with a mere four residents. Housing 5.9 people per square mile, Wyoming is far from congested, especially when compared to California, which has 240.5 people per square mile.
The West African country of Niger has the highest birth rate in the world: Between 2015 and 2020, the average woman in Niger gave birth seven times. Unsurprisingly, this means that Niger has a very young population, with a median age of 15. In fact, with an estimated population of 22.93 million, roughly half of the people who live in Niger are under the age of 14.
In less than 30 years, the world’s population is projected to grow by 2.2 billion people, from 7.8 billion in 2020 to a whopping 10 billion in 2050. This estimation is based on the current global fertility rate, which averages 2.3 births per woman, as well as other population indicators that are tracked in 200 countries around the world. By 2050, many countries in Africa will have doubled their populations, with some countries (such as Angola) expected to increase by a whopping 150%.
The world population currently grows by an estimated 1.05% to 1.1% per year. However, this is a significant decrease from just 60 years ago, when the world’s annual growth was 2.2% per year. Despite this decline, the world’s population has steadily increased over the past 200 years. Since 1800, the world’s population has increased from 1 billion to 7.9 billion, largely thanks to advances in the medical and agricultural industries.
While many countries are shrinking in population, others are growing at much faster rates, leading to unequal distribution of global population growth. In fact, just nine countries are predicted to make up more than 50% of population growth by 2050. According to the United Nations, these countries are India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt, and the United States. The same report by the U.N. also revealed that the world’s population continues to grow older, as life expectancy increases across the globe.