Mapped: The World's Most Populous Countries, in Ascending Order
Connect with us


Mapped: The World’s Most Populous Countries, in Ascending Order



Mapping the Most Populous Countries, in Ascending Order

To keep information from getting stale, it can be worth changing things up.

One way to do this is to present data in a different way than what is traditionally expected, enabling a fresh perspective of the same information.

Today’s animated map comes to us from Reddit user notoriousstats, and it provides another angle of looking at a traditional world map: by plotting countries in the order of ascending populations, from the least populated to the most populated.

Filling a Map from Scratch

In the above animation, countries are added onto the map in sequence — each must have a minimum population of 1 million people — going from Swaziland (now officially known as Eswatini) all the way up to China.

It’s a visual trick that helps trigger some new insights, specifically about the population density of countries and continents. Let’s dive into a couple things that stood out.

Insights on Population Density

We naturally assume that the bigger a country is, the more people it usually has.

However, when we watch an animation like this, it becomes clear that this is not often the case. In fact, many large countries appear on the map early on — taking massive amounts of geographic real estate, but with very low populations.

Below is a list of the 10 countries with the lowest population densities on the planet:

RankCountryPopulationDensity (sq. km)Density (sq. mi)
#1🇲🇳 Mongolia3,225,0002.085.38
#2🇳🇦 Namibia2,495,0003.037.85
#3🇦🇺 Australia25,203,0003.308.55
#4🇱🇾 Libya6,777,0003.859.98
#5🇧🇼 Botswana2,304,0004.0710.53
#6🇨🇦 Canada37,411,0004.1110.66
#7🇲🇷 Mauritania4,526,0004.4111.43
#8🇰🇿 Kazakhstan18,551,0006.8717.80
#9🇨🇫 Central African Rep.4,745,0007.6219.73
#10🇬🇦 Gabon2,173,0008.4321.84

Using this and the map as reference, what stands out?

Africa in Focus

Africa has over 1.2 billion people living on it, so we often think of the continent as having a fairly high population density.

However, if you watch the animation, you’ll notice that many of the first countries appearing on the map are African — in fact, six of the 10 least densely populated countries in the world are on the continent: Namibia, Libya, Botswana, Mauritania, Central African Republic, and Gabon.

The reason for this lack of population density lies partly in geography.

We are all familiar with the vast extent of the Sahara (which makes most of Libya and Maritania desolate), but have you heard of the Namib or Kalahari deserts in the south?

The Namib takes away Namibia’s entire coastline, while the Kalahari makes most of Botswana and parts of Namibia almost inhospitable.


The animated map also creates some eye-popping juxtapositions between countries, which are appearing in order of population.

For example, Australia and North Korea appear in sequence. Both have about 26 million people, but Australia has a landmass that is about 63 times as large.

Russia and Bangladesh are also back-to-back; Russia has 145 million people, while Bangladesh has 163 million. Yet, if Russia had the population density of Bangladesh, it would be home to 19 billion people, which is three times the current global total.

Changing Perspectives

If we always look at things the same way, it’s hard to notice something new.

Each time we view a map from a different angle, it creates the opportunity to discover new insights. This same thought process can be applied to other areas of life, so that we can always be learning — and data never gets stale.

Subscribe to Visual Capitalist
Click for Comments


Visualizing the Odds of Dying from Various Accidents

This infographic shows you the odds of dying from a variety of accidents, including car crashes, bee stings, and more.



Infographic: The Odds of Dying from Various Accidents

Fatal accidents account for a significant number of deaths in the U.S. every year. For example, nearly 43,000 Americans died in traffic accidents in 2021.

Without the right context, however, it can be difficult to properly interpret these figures.

To help you understand your chances, we’ve compiled data from the National Safety Council, and visualized the lifetime odds of dying from various accidents.

Data and Methodology

The lifetime odds presented in this graphic were estimated by dividing the one-year odds of dying by the life expectancy of a person born in 2020 (77 years).

Additionally, these numbers are based on data from the U.S., and likely differ in other countries.

Type of AccidentLifetime odds of dying (1 in #)
Motor vehicle accident101
Complications of medical and surgical care798
Alcohol poisoning1,606
Accidental building fire1,825
Choking on food2,745
Drowning in swimming pool5,782
Accidental firearm discharge7,998
Airplane accident11,756
Bee or wasp sting57,825
Dog attack69,016
Lightning strike138,849

For comparison’s sake, the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292,000,000. In other words, you are 4000x more likely to die by a lightning strike over your lifetime than to win the Powerball lottery.

Continue reading below for further context on some of these accidents.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S., with a 1 in 101 chance of dying. This is quite a common way of dying, especially when compared to something like bee stings (1 in 57,825).

Unfortunately, a major cause of vehicle deaths is impaired driving. The CDC reports that 32 Americans are killed every day in crashes involving alcohol, which equates to one death every 45 minutes.

For further context, consider this: 30% of all traffic-related deaths in 2020 involved alcohol-impaired drivers.


The odds of drowning in a swimming pool (1 in 5,782) are significantly higher than those of drowning in general (1 in 10,386). According to the CDC, there are 4,000 fatal drownings every year, which works out to 11 deaths per day.

Drowning also happens to be a leading cause of death for children. It is the leading cause for kids aged 1-4, and second highest cause for kids aged 5-14.

A rather surprising fact about drowning is that 80% of fatalities are male. This has been attributed to higher rates of alcohol use and risk-taking behaviors.

Accidental Firearm Discharge

Lastly, let’s look at accidental firearm deaths, which have lifetime odds of 1 in 7,998. That’s higher than the odds of drowning (general), as well as dying in an airplane accident.

This shouldn’t come as a major surprise, since the U.S. has the highest rates of gun ownership in the world. More importantly, these odds highlight the importance of properly securing one’s firearms, as well as learning safe handling practices.

As a percentage of total gun-related deaths (45,222 in 2020), accidental shootings represent a tiny 1%. The two leading causes are suicide (54%) and homicide (43%).

Interested in learning more about death? Revisit one of our most popular posts of all time: Visualizing the History of Pandemics.

Continue Reading