Total and urban population

1/3 of world population live in China and India
83 million more people live on earth each year
African population growing at more than double the speed of world average
More than half of the world population settle in urban areas
World population, 2017
Economies

    Note: The area of economies is proportional to the population.

    Find the data on UNCTADstat

    World population growth slowing down

    In 2017, the world population grew at an annual rate of 1.1 per cent - half the rate of 50 years ago. The year 1969 marked a peak in population growth, when the growth rate was 2.1 per cent. Population growth dropped considerably during the 1970s and 1990s. From 2003 to 2008, it remained almost unchanged, staying between 1.2 and 1.3 per cent, and since then has fallen slightly again. Population growth is forecast to continue decreasing, falling to an annual rate of only 0.5 per cent by 2050.

    Geographic distribution

    Many Asian economies are home to particularly large populations relative to the geographic space available. One third of the world population lives, in almost equal proportions, in China and India. Among the ten most populated economies worldwide, the population of Nigeria, the seventh largest, is the fastest growing.

    Figure 1Annual growth rate of world population (Percentage)

    Note: Annual exponential rate of growth of the population (see Calculation methods page).

    Developing economies drive population growth

    In 2017, the world population reached 7.55 billion people. Given the current growth rate of 1.1 per cent, an additional 83 million people are added each year. According to projections, by 2050, the global population will reach almost 10 billion people.

    Today, 6.2 billion people, i.e. four fifths of the world's total, live in developing economies. In the 1950s, their share was only two thirds. The population of Africa has been expanding particularly strongly (in 2017, by 2.5 per cent). It is forecast to continue to do so also over the next three decades.

    Figure 2World population by group of economies (Billions)

    Urbanization continues

    Around the world, slightly more people live in urban than in rural areas. The proportion of urban population is growing and is forecast to increase from 55 per cent in 2017 to 68 per cent by 2050.

    Africa has a particularly small share of urban population. In 2017, 42 per cent of African people lived in cities. In many Eastern African economies, the share was less than 30 per cent. Large parts of Southern and South-Eastern Asia are also predominantly rural, with an urban population share of less than 50 per cent for developing economies in Asia and Oceania on average. By contrast, in American developing economies, urban populations are as high as in developed economies, accounting for, on average, 80 per cent in 2017.

    Figure 3Urban population by group of economies, 2017 (Percentage of total population)

    Summary tables

    Table 1

    Total population by group of economies

    Group of economies

    Population

    Annual growth ratea

    (Millions)

    (Percentage)

    2012

    2017

    2050

    2012-2017

    2017

    2050

    World

    7 128

    7 550

    9 772

    1.2

    1.1

    0.8

    Developing economies

    5 789

    6 187

    8 342

    1.3

    1.3

    0.9

    Developing economies: Africa

    1 104

    1 255

    2 526

    2.6

    2.5

    2.1

    Developing economies: America

    607

    641

    775

    1.1

    1.0

    0.6

    Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

    4 078

    4 291

    5 041

    1.0

    1.0

    0.5

    Transition economies

    302

    307

    308

    0.3

    0.3

    0.0

    Developed economies

    1 037

    1 056

    1 122

    0.4

    0.4

    0.2

    Selected groups

    Developing economies excluding China

    4 414

    4 778

    6 978

    1.6

    1.5

    1.1

    Developing economies excluding LDCs

    4 897

    5 184

    6 422

    1.1

    1.1

    0.6

    LDCs

    890

    1 002

    1 917

    2.4

    2.3

    2.0

    LLDCs

    447

    504

    939

    2.4

    2.3

    1.9

    SIDS (UNCTAD)

    12

    13

    16

    1.0

    1.0

    0.6

    HIPCs (IMF)

    613

    705

    1 502

    2.8

    2.7

    2.3

    BRICS

    3 035

    3 159

    3 462

    0.8

    0.7

    0.3

    G20

    4 612

    4 789

    5 279

    0.8

    0.7

    0.3

    a
    Annual exponential rate of growth (see Calculation methods page).
    Find the data on UNCTADstat
    Table 2

    Urban population by group of economies

    Group of economies

    Urban population

    Share in total population

    (Millions)

    (Percentage)

    2012

    2017

    2050

    2012

    2017

    2050

    World

    3 748

    4 140

    6 680

    52.6

    54.8

    68.4

    Developing economies

    2 729

    3 094

    5 468

    47.1

    50.0

    65.5

    Developing economies: Africa

    439

    527

    1 488

    39.8

    42.0

    58.9

    Developing economies: America

    479

    515

    681

    79.0

    80.3

    87.8

    Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

    1 811

    2 052

    3 299

    44.4

    47.8

    65.5

    Transition economies

    196

    200

    229

    65.0

    65.2

    74.3

    Developed economies

    822

    846

    983

    79.3

    80.2

    87.6

    Selected groups

    Developing economies excluding China

    2 017

    2 277

    4 376

    45.7

    47.7

    62.7

    Developing economies excluding LDCs

    2 457

    2 762

    4 459

    50.2

    53.3

    69.4

    LDCs

    271

    331

    1 006

    30.5

    33.0

    52.5

    LLDCs

    131

    153

    427

    29.2

    30.4

    45.4

    SIDS (UNCTAD)

    5

    6

    9

    45.0

    45.7

    55.6

    HIPCs (IMF)

    203

    249

    804

    33.1

    35.4

    53.5

    BRICS

    1 421

    1 592

    2 352

    46.8

    50.4

    68.0

    G20

    2 601

    2 832

    3 901

    56.4

    59.1

    73.9

    Table 3

    Most populated economies by group

    Developing economies: Africa

    Economy

    Total

    Urban

    Population

    Annual growth ratea

    Share in total
    population

    Annual growth ratea

    (Millions)

    (Percentage)

    (Percentage)

    (Percentage)

    2017

    2012-2017

    2017-2050

    2017

    2012-2017

    2017-2050

    Nigeria

    191

    2.6

    2.3

    49.5

    4.4

    3.4

    Ethiopia

    105

    2.5

    1.8

    20.3

    4.8

    3.8

    Egypt

    98

    2.1

    1.4

    42.7

    2.0

    2.2

    Dem. Rep. of the Congo

    81

    3.3

    2.7

    43.9

    4.6

    3.8

    United Republic of Tanzania

    57

    3.1

    2.7

    33.1

    5.4

    4.2

    Developing Africa

    1 255

    2.6

    2.1

    42.0

    3.7

    3.1

    a
    Annual exponential rate of growth (see Calculation methods page).
    Find the data on UNCTADstat

    Developing economies: America

    Economy

    Total

    Urban

    Population

    Annual growth ratea

    Share in total
    population

    Annual growth ratea

    (Millions)

    (Percentage)

    (Percentage)

    (Percentage)

    2017

    2012-2017

    2017-2050

    2017

    2012-2017

    2017-2050

    Brazil

    209

    0.9

    0.3

    86.3

    1.2

    0.5

    Mexico

    129

    1.3

    0.7

    79.9

    1.7

    1.0

    Colombia

    49

    0.9

    0.3

    80.4

    1.3

    0.6

    Argentina

    44

    1.0

    0.7

    91.7

    1.1

    0.8

    Peru

    32

    1.3

    0.8

    77.7

    1.5

    1.1

    Developing America

    641

    1.1

    0.6

    80.3

    1.4

    0.8

    a
    Annual exponential rate of growth (see Calculation methods page).
    Find the data on UNCTADstat

    Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

    Economy

    Total

    Urban

    Population

    Annual growth ratea

    Share in total
    population

    Annual growth ratea

    (Millions)

    (Percentage)

    (Percentage)

    (Percentage)

    2017

    2012-2017

    2017-2050

    2017

    2012-2017

    2017-2050

    China

    1 410

    0.5

    -0.1

    58.0

    2.8

    0.9

    India

    1 339

    1.2

    0.6

    33.6

    2.4

    2.0

    Indonesia

    264

    1.2

    0.6

    54.7

    2.5

    1.5

    Pakistan

    197

    2.0

    1.3

    36.4

    2.6

    2.4

    Bangladesh

    165

    1.1

    0.6

    35.9

    3.4

    2.1

    Developing Asia and Oceania

    4 291

    1.0

    0.5

    47.8

    2.5

    1.4

    a
    Annual exponential rate of growth (see Calculation methods page).
    Find the data on UNCTADstat