Global Population Changes: From 2.5 to 10 billion in 150 years

The world’s population has reached the symbolic milestone of adding another billion to this planet. While 7 billion is a static number, the expansion and distribution of the world’s population is a very dynamic issue that a single map of where these 7 billion are living (as shown on this website back in July) does not do full justice of what is happening on the planet of people. A lot has changed from the 2.5 billion people that lived on the planet in the middle of the last century to today’s 7 billion, moving the gravitational centre of people considerably towards Asia. This has now started turning towards the African continent, which has not only been a considerable part of the global population growth over the last quarter of the century (and is therefore home to a large share of the world’s children), but is expected outnumber Asian population growth considerably in the decades to come.
The following cartogram-map animation shows these changing trends between 1950 and 2100. It is based on United Nations probabilistic population projections of total fertility from the 2010 Revision of the World Population Prospects. From the year 2010, the data is based on a future projection of expected population changed. “To project the population until 2100, the United Nations Population Division uses assumptions regarding future trends in fertility, mortality and international migration. Because future trends cannot be known with certainty, a number of projection variants are produced” (quoted from the WPP documentation). I used the data from the probabilistic median variant, in which the population is expected to grow to approximately 10 billion by the year 2100 (see below for a graph of the different scenarios produced by the UN). The animation therefore shows the changing distributions of population between the different countries (note that South Sudan is not included in the estimates; Sudan is therefore treated as one country in this map), with Europe losing large shares of population in total as well as in relation to the rest of the world, while the dominance of Asia slowly starts to be relativised by the increasing population shares on the African continent, making the changes in the Americas almost insignificant from a global perspective:

Cartogram map animation of the world population development 1950-2100 (Probabilistic median projection)
(click for larger map)
See also the (static) world population cartogram for this year

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In Focus: Global Population Shifts

Political InsightAccording to recent estimates by the UN, the world’s population will reach 7 billion some time this year, and rise to over 10 billion by 2100. In an article for the “In Focus” section of Political Insight (September 2011, Volume 2, Issue 2) Danny Dorling and I show where the population is growing and where it is declining.
The map we created for this feature shows not only the growth and decline in relation to the global population distribution, but also highlights the places that are in growth an decline in two separate maps. This is a preview of the maps that we created for the article:
Global Population Shifts 1990-2015 Preview map Continue reading

7 Billion

On July 11, 1987 the world population reached an unprecedented 5 billion, which was acknowledged with the establishment of World Population Day on that day ever since then. With the world’s population believed to reach 7 billion some time this year, this will obviously be a symbolic day (like it was back in 1987). But nobody knows how many of us are there exactly on this planet, and the number is constantly changing anyway. A nice animation of global statistics is shown in Worldometers, a website which turns all kinds of global statistics into live counts based on the estimated changes; at the time of writing this, the world population according to that website was at exactly 6,976,723,755785843…and counting; we also welcomed more than 208,000 new citizen to this planet while we also had to say goodbye to more than 95,700. Well, this is what World Population Day apparently is about: Making us think about the significance of population trends and related issues.
The worldmapper contribution to this year’s world population day is an updated version of the world population cartogram. The new map shows the countries of the world resized according to the total number of people living in each country in 2011 (using UNPD estimates). In a quick update, the world’s newest country South Sudan is also integrated in this map, so that this is the most recent population view that one can get of today’s countries:

Map / World Population Cartogram 2011
(click for larger map)

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