The current global population is approximately 7.71 billion, up from 7.5 billion in 2013. This population is distributed across six of the earth's seven continents: Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America, and Australia/Oceania. However, the global population is not distributed equally among these continents. Instead, nearly 60% of the world's population lives in Asia. Additionally, 35.6% of the global population lives in two Asian countries: China and India.
Continents By Population
Asia is the world's most populous and most extensive continent, accounting for 60% of the global population and 30% of Earth’s land mass. As of 2019, the continent had an estimated population of 4.58 billion people. Asia occupies four-fifths of the Eurasian supercontinent and is divided politically into 50 countries. The continent also includes the world's three most populated regions: Southern Asia, Eastern Asia, and Southeastern Asia. Additionally, Asia includes the world's two most populated countries, China and India. Although China is currently the world's most populous country, based on current growth rates, the population of India is expected to surpass China by 2025.
Africa is the second most populous and second most extensive continent, with an estimated population of 1.3 billion in 2019. Africa consists of 54 sovereign states and nine territories. The continent is growing so fast that its population doubled in just 27 years. Additionally, African countries are registering high population growths due to high fertility rates and limited access to family planning.
Europe occupies the westernmost part of the Eurasian supercontinent. It is separated from Asia by the Ural River, the Black and Caspian seas, the Ural and Caucasus mountains, as well as waterways that connect the Aegean and Black seas. Europe has an estimated population of 738 million and encompasses a total area of 3.93 million sq mi, which represents 6.8% of Earth’s land mass. However, Europe has the slowest growth rate, with a value of 0.08% annually.
North America has an estimated population of 580 million, which represents 7.79% of the global population. The continent's three largest countries, Canada, the United States, and Mexico, account for approximately 90% of North America's population. Although Canada is the most extensive country in North America, it accounts for only 6% of the continent's population.
South America has an estimated population of 422.5 million and consists of 12 sovereign countries, the Falkland Islands (a British overseas territory), and French Guiana (an overseas department of France). Brazil is the most populous country in South America, with a population of 201 million, followed by Colombia (47 million), and Argentina (41 million).
Australia is the world's smallest continent. It includes the island nation of Australia as well as the islands of Tasmania and New Guinea. The continent has an estimated population of 38.3 million accounting for about 0.54% of the world's population. The continent of Australia is often intermixed with the geographic region of Oceania which includes the island of New Zealand as well as several thousand Pacific islands.
Antarctica is the least populated continent, with an estimated population of only 1,106 people. In fact, there are no permanent inhabitants in Antarctica due to the harsh weather conditions. Instead, most people in Antarctica are considered semi-permanent inhabitants who work as researchers in various research stations.
Trends in Population Growth
The world’s population grows at an average rate of approximately 1.17% per annum. Africa is the fastest-growing continent, with an average growth rate of 2.57%, while Europe is growing at an average of 0.08%. Additionally, all regions of the world experience population growth except Eastern and Southern Europe, which registered negative growth rates between 2015 and 2017.