There are around 7.9 billion people living on Earth as of 2022 — 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 the future. From the world’s most populated continent to a municipality with just one person, here are 17 fascinating global population facts that may surprise you.
90% of the Earth’s Human Population Lives in One Hemisphere
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 is 19.1% land.
Over Half of the World’s Population Lives on a Single Continent
Earth’s continents are similarly unequal in population distribution — it’s estimated that 60% of Earth's population (around 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.
Japan Is Home to the World's Most Populated City
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 Has the World’s Densest Population
Monaco may only be the second-smallest country by geographical size, but it can claim one top honor: It is the world's most densely populated country. 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.
Nigeria Has the Highest Population in Africa (and Burundi Has the Lowest)
Nigeria’s population of 216.8 million people makes it the most populous nation on the continent of Africa. On the other end of the spectrum, the African country of Burundi has 12.6 million people, just 5% of its continental counterpart. Nigeria’s large population is often attributed to its high birth rate, which is roughly 37 births per 1,000 people. At this rate, Nigeria’s population in 2050 is projected to be over 390 million people.
The Most Populated U.S. Zip Code Is in Katy, Texas
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 country also belongs to Katy, with 118,291 residents living in the 77494 ZIP code. Five of the top 10 ZIP codes by population are located in the Lone Star State.
The World's Most Populated Island Is Home to 145 Million People
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.
The World's Least Populated Island Only Has 50 Residents
Pitcairn Island has the smallest island population in the world, with only 50 residents on a single island. Part of a group of four volcanic islands in the South Pacific Ocean, the island of Pitcairn is roughly the same size as New York City’s Central Park. Featuring a single sandy beach, ancient petroglyphs, and a network of dirt roads, the island is welcoming to visitors but has no hotels. Instead, island hosts open their homes to tourists at a cost of around $80 to $200 USD per day.
There’s a Town in Nebraska With a Population of 1
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.
Antarctica Has No Permanent Human Inhabitants
Antarctica takes the prize for least populated continent — by a long shot. The southernmost continent has no permanent human settlements due to its isolation and extreme weather. However, people do live in Antarctica on a seasonal basis, with most of the rotating population working as scientific researchers. Approximately 4,400 people live in Antarctica during the summer, with only about 1,000 people braving the long, cold winter.
The World's Smallest Country Is Home to Around 800 People
In addition to being the world's smallest country by area, Vatican City is the least populated country in the world. Surrounded on all sides by Rome, Italy, the city-state covers an area of just over 100 acres and has a population of approximately 800 people. Those who officially reside in Vatican City are priests, nuns, cardinals, and the Pontifical Swiss Guard, who have protected the city since the 1500s. The most notable resident is Pope Francis, who is the head of the Catholic Church and the city-state’s official monarch.
The Least Populated State in the U.S. Is Wyoming
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.
Nepal's Population Has the Highest Percentage of Women
Females 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.
Niger Has the World's Highest Birth Rate and Youngest Population
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. Roughly half of the estimated 22.9 million people who live in Niger are under the age of 14.
In 2050, the Earth Will Have 10 Billion Inhabitants
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 like Angola expected to increase by a whopping 150%.
The World Is Growing at a Slower Pace Than It Used To
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.
By 2050, Half of the World’s Population Growth Will Be Concentrated in Nine Countries
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.