The World's Most Populated Countries

By Jessica Dillinger on June 5 2019 in World Facts

China and India are the world's two most populated countries.
China and India are the world's two most populated countries.

When it comes to population, numbers have always tended to be highest in Asia. Currently, Asia holds around 4.4 billion inhabitants, just over 60% of the world's population. The world's two most populated countries, China and India, are both in Asia. China and India are the only countries in the world with a population of over 1 billion

China and India 

Though growth in Asia today is progressively slowing down in the countries with the largest human populations, throughout the majority of the 20th-century national populations expanded rapidly there. This was due to the already high birth rates there not reducing as rapidly as the mortality rates. 

In the past, China’s government set a controversial one-child policy (with some exceptions). Some scholars state that this policy prevented up to 500 million births. 

In India, family planning and awareness programs have been credited for population control. However, nonetheless, India's demography is a youthful one, with over 50% of its population younger than 25 years of age. Catching up on China fast, the country is expected to be the most populous on our globe by 2022.

Indonesia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are the other most populated countries in Asia

Large Populations Outside of Asia

While six of the ten most populous countries in the world are in Asia, the others are distributed across the other continents: the United States, Brazil, Nigeria, and Russia. Russia, a Eurasian country, has a population of over 143 million inhabitants. Although most of its territory is located in Asia, this is largely constituted by the frozen masses of Siberia. Meanwhile, the bulk of the Russian populace resides on the European continent.

The US owes much of its population density to a high immigration rate during the last decades. Currently, population growth is lower slightly below 1%, and the birth rate is 1.86 births per woman as of 2014, which is below the natural level of replacement fertility rate of 2.1. This is slightly higher than many developed European countries, where the populations have been getting progressively older and are showing signs of negative growth. This is in stark contrast with the 1800s, when American women had an average of 7 children each.

Shifts in Population Trends

Currently, African countries exhibit the most rapid population growth rates. Over the last 50 years, Nigeria has quadrupled its population, mainly owing to extremely high fertility rates. Several projections estimate that Nigeria's population could grow to levels on par with China by 2100. By that time, the world's population is projected to reach its peak, at around 10 or 11 billion people, with India having the highest population density.

Limits to Human Population Growth?

While the national population rankings may shift somewhat, Asia is unlikely to be surpassed in terms of continental population in the next few centuries. Though growth rates remain high in Central and South America, the Middle East, and across much of Africa, global rates are continuing to decline. With global populations projected to reach close to 11 billion by 2100, we will be forced to find innovative new ways to further stretch our land, human, and natural resources to their respective limits.

Highest Country Populations Worldwide

1 China 1.397 Billion
2 India 1.309 Billion
3 United States of America 319 Million
4 Indonesia 258 Million
5 Brazil 205 Million
6 Pakistan 189 Million
7 Nigeria 181 Million
8 Bangladesh 161 Million
9 Russia 143 Million
10 Japan 127 Million
11 Mexico 125 Million
12 Philippines 101 Million
13 Ethiopia 99 Million
14 Egypt 93 Million
15 Vietnam 93 Million
16 Germany 81 Million
17 Iran 79 Million
18 Turkey 78 Million
19 Democratic Republic of the Congo 76 Million
20 Thailand 68 Million

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