Visualizing the Most Populous Countries in the World
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Visualizing the Most Populous Countries in the World

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The Most Populous Countries in the World

Visualizing the Most Populous Countries in the World

India’s population is projected to surpass China’s as soon as 2022.

While this is consequential on a global economic level, it also leaves other population trends overlooked. For instance, Nigeria is projected to have more people than the U.S., the world’s third-largest country by population, by the year 2050.

This treemap visualization, adapted from PopulationPyramid.net, is an overview of the global population in 2020, showing us the world’s most populous countries.

The 50 Most Populous Countries

China, with a population of 1.44 billion, is the most populous country worldwide.

In 2019, over 60% of its population resided in urban centers, a trend that has seen the portion of city dwellers double over the last 25 years. For context, 83% of the U.S. population lives in cities, while just 35% of India’s population dwells in urban areas.

Together, China and India’s populations make up over 36% of the global total.

 CountryPopulation (2020)
1🇨🇳 China1,439,323,774
2🇮🇳 India1,380,004,385
3🇺🇸 U.S.331,002,647
4🇮🇩 Indonesia273,523,621
5🇵🇰 Pakistan220,892,331
6🇧🇷 Brazil212,559,409
7🇳🇬 Nigeria206,139,587
8🇧🇩 Bangladesh164,689,383
9🇷🇺 Russian Federation145,934,460
10🇲🇽 Mexico128,932,753
11🇯🇵 Japan126,476,458
12🇪🇹 Ethiopia114,963,583
13🇵🇭 Philippines109,581,085
14🇪🇬 Egypt102,334,403
15🇻🇳 Vietnam97,338,583
16🇨🇩 D.R. Congo89,561,404
17🇹🇷 Turkey84,339,067
18🇮🇷 Iran83,992,953
19🇩🇪 Germany83,783,945
20🇹🇭 Thailand69,799,978
21🇬🇧 United Kingdom67,886,004
22🇫🇷 France65,273,512
23🇮🇹 Italy60,461,828
24🇹🇿 Tanzania59,734,213
25🇿🇦 South Africa59,308,690
26🇲🇲 Myanmar54,409,794
27🇰🇪Kenya53,771,300
28🇰🇷 Republic of Korea51,269,183
29🇨🇴 Colombia50,882,884
30🇪🇸 Spain46,754,783
31🇺🇬 Uganda45,741,000
32🇦🇷 Argentina45,195,777
33🇩🇿 Algeria43,851,043
34🇸🇩 Sudan43,849,269
35🇺🇦 Ukraine43,733,759
36🇮🇶 Iraq40,222,503
37🇦🇫 Afghanistan38,928,341
38🇵🇱 Poland37,846,605
39🇨🇦 Canada37,742,157
40🇲🇦 Morocco36,910,558
41🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia34,813,867
42🇺🇿 Uzbekistan33,469,199
43🇵🇪 Peru32,971,846
44🇦🇴 Angola32,866,268
45🇲🇾 Malaysia32,365,998
46🇲🇿 Mozambique31,255,435
47🇬🇭 Ghana31,072,945
48🇾🇪 Yemen29,825,968
49🇳🇵 Nepal29,136,808
50🇻🇪 Venezuela28,435,943

Extending over 17,000 islands, Indonesia comes fourth among the world’s most populous countries, standing at 273.5 million people.

Pakistan comes in fifth, with 220.8 million. Karachi, located on the southeastern coast of Pakistan, is home to over 16 million people alone. It is Pakistan’s most populous city, and the seventh-largest city in the world.

Nigeria also makes it onto the list. In just three decades, the country’s population is projected to climb from 206 million to 400 million—growing at a percentage clip that is more than double that of India.

The 50 Least Populous Countries

Combined, the 50 least-populous countries make up under 0.4% of the total world population. By contrast, the top 50 account for 87% of the total.

Unsurprisingly, the world’s low population nations are situated on small islands, often tropical and reliant on tourism.

 CountryPopulation*
1🇻🇦 Vatican City799
2🇹🇰 Tokelau1,340
3🇳🇺 Niue1,615
4🇫🇰 Falkland Islands3,377
5🇲🇸 Montserrat4,989
6🇵🇲 Saint Pierre and Miquelon5,822
7🇸🇭 Saint Helena6,059
8🇳🇷 Nauru10,756
9🇼🇫 Wallis and Futuna11,432
10🇹🇻 Tuvalu11,646
11🇦🇮 Anguilla14,869
12🇨🇰 Cook Islands17,548
13🇵🇼 Palau18,008
14🇧🇶 Caribbean Netherlands25,979
15🇻🇬 British Virgin Islands30,030
16🇬🇮 Gibraltar33,701
17🇸🇲 San Marino33,860
18🇱🇮 Liechtenstein38,019
19🇹🇨 Turks and Caicos Islands38,191
20🇲🇨 Monaco38,964
21🇸🇽 Sint Maarten42,388
22🇫🇴 Faroe Islands48,678
23🇰🇳 Saint Kitts and Nevis52,823
24🇦🇸 American Samoa55,312
25🇲🇵 Northern Mariana Islands56,188
26🇬🇱 Greenland56,672
27🇲🇭 Marshall Islands58,791
28🇧🇲 Bermuda62,506
29🇰🇾 Cayman Islands64,948
30🇩🇲 Dominica71,808
31🇦🇩 Andorra77,142
32🇮🇲 Isle of Man84,584
33🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda97,118
34🇸🇨 Seychelles97,739
35🇻🇮 United States Virgin Islands104,578
36🇦🇼 Aruba106,314
37🇻🇨 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines110,589
38🇹🇴 Tonga110,940
39🇬🇩 Grenada112,003
40🇫🇲 Micronesia (Fed. States of)113,815
41🇰🇮 Kiribati117,606
42🇨🇼 Curaçao163,424
43🇬🇺 Guam167,294
44Channel Islands172,259
45🇱🇨 Saint Lucia182,790
46🇼🇸 Samoa197,097
47🇸🇹 São Tomé and Príncipe215,056
48Mayotte266,150
49🇵🇫 French Polynesia279,287
50🇬🇫 French Guiana282,731

*Source: United Nations, as of July 1, 2019. Includes territories.

With a total of 799 residents in 2019, Vatican City is the least populated country. Following close behind is the territory of Tokelau, a cluster of islands situated between New Zealand and Hawaii.

The Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda is also among the smallest populations in the world, with just 97,118 inhabitants. While it may be small in terms of total inhabitants, its population density is another story—with over 222 people per square kilometer. That is roughly 50% higher than China, but about half the population density of India.

Meanwhile, the 33 pacific islands of Kiribati also make the top 50 list of the least populous countries worldwide. With a population of 117,606, Kiribati was a testing site for atomic bombs by the British and Americans during the 1960s. The island reached independence in 1979, after being under crown colonial rule since 1916.

Regional Median Ages

How about the median ages across these populations?

By far, the African region has the lowest median age at 19.8 years old, partially driven by a high birth rate of 4.7 children per woman. In contrast, the global average falls around 2.5 children.

By 2050, Africa’s population will effectively double from 1.3 billion to 2.5 billion.

RegionAnnual Rate of Natural Population IncreaseMedian Age (2020)
Africa2.5%19.8 years
Asia0.9%32.1 years
Central America1.2%28.3 years
Europe-0.1%42.7 years
Latin America & Caribbean0.9%30.9 years
Northern America0.3%38.6 years
Oceania0.9%33.5 years
South America0.9%32.0 years
World1.0%30.9 years

Source: Our World in Data

On the other hand, Europe is the oldest, at 42.7 years for this demographic metric.

With a median age of 47.9, Italy has the second-oldest population in the world, topped only by Japan. Meanwhile, Germany (46.6), Portugal (46.2), and Spain (45.5) fall next in line. If current trends continue, by 2050, half of Europe’s population will be non-working and over the age of 65.

That said, it should be noted that this trend is not exclusive to Europe. In 30 years, 1.5 billion people globally will be over the age of 65, amounting to 16% of the global population.

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How the Top Cryptocurrencies Performed in 2021

Cryptocurrencies had a breakout year in 2021, providing plenty of volatility and strong returns across crypto’s various sectors.

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The Returns of Top Cryptocurrencies in 2021

2021 saw the crypto markets boom and mature, with different sectors flourishing and largely outperforming the market leader, bitcoin.

While bitcoin only managed to return 59.8% last year, the crypto sector’s total market cap grew by 187.5%, with many of the top coins offering four and even five-digit percentage returns.

2021 Crypto Market Roundup

Last year wasn’t just a breakout year for crypto in terms of returns, but also the growing infrastructure’s maturity and resulting decorrelation of individual crypto industries and coins.

Crypto’s infrastructure has developed significantly, and there are now many more onramps for people to buy altcoins that don’t require purchasing and using bitcoin in the process. As a result, many cryptocurrency prices were more dictated by the value and functionality of their protocol and applications rather than their correlation to bitcoin.

CryptocurrencyCategory2021 Returns
BitcoinCryptocurrency59.8%
EthereumSmart Contract Platform399.2%
Binance CoinExchange Token1,268.9%
SolanaSmart Contract Platform11,177.8%
CardanoSmart Contract Platform621.3%
XRPCryptocurrency277.8%
TerraSmart Contract Platform12,967.3%
AvalancheSmart Contract Platform3,334.8%
PolkadotSmart Contract Platform187.9%
DogecoinMeme Coin3,546.0%

Sources: TradingView, Binance, Uniswap, FTX, Bittrex

Bitcoin wasn’t the only cryptocurrency that didn’t manage to reach triple-digit returns in 2021. Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash also provided meagre double-digit percentage returns, as payment-focused cryptocurrencies were largely ignored for projects with smart contract capabilities.

Other older projects like Stellar Lumens (109%) and XRP (278%) provided triple-digit returns, with Cardano (621%) being the best performer of the old guard despite not managing to ship its smart contract functionality last year.

The Rise of the Ethereum Competitors

Ethereum greatly outpaced bitcoin in 2021, returning 399.2% as the popularity boom of NFTs and creation of DeFi 2.0 protocols like Olympus (OHM) expanded possible use-cases.

But with the rise of network activity, a 50% increase in transfers in 2021, Ethereum gas fees surged. From minimums of $20 for a single transaction, to NFT mint prices starting around $40 and going into the hundreds on congested network days, crypto’s retail crowd migrated to other smart contract platforms with lower fees.

Alternative budding smart contract platforms like Solana (11,178%), Avalanche (3,335%), and Fantom (13,207%) all had 4-5 digit percentage returns, as these protocols built out their own decentralized finance ecosystems and NFT markets.

With Ethereum set to merge onto the beacon chain this year, which uses proof of stake instead of proof of work, we’ll see if 2022 brings lower gas fees and retail’s return to Ethereum if the merge is successful.

Dog Coins Meme their Way to the Top

While many new cryptocurrencies with strong functionality and unique use-cases were rewarded with strong returns, it was memes that powered the greatest returns in cryptocurrencies this past year.

Dogecoin’s surge after Elon Musk’s “adoption” saw many other dog coins follow, with SHIB benefitting the most and returning an astounding 19.85 million percent.

But ever since Dogecoin’s run from $0.07 to a high of $0.74 in Q2 of last year, the original meme coin’s price has slowly bled -77% down to $0.17 at the time of writing. After the roller coaster ride of last year, 2022 started with a positive catalyst for Dogecoin holders as Elon Musk announced DOGE can be used to purchase Tesla merchandise.

Gamifying the Crypto Industry

The intersection between crypto, games, and the metaverse became more than just a pipe dream in 2021. Axie Infinity was the first crypto native game to successfully establish a play to earn structure that combines its native token (AXS) and in-game NFTs, becoming a sensation and source of income for many in the Philippines.

Other crypto gaming projects like Defi Kingdoms are putting recognizable game interfaces on decentralized finance applications, with the decentralized exchange becoming the town’s “marketplace” and yield farms being the “gardens” where yield is harvested. This fantasy aesthetic is more than just a new coat of paint, as the project with $1.04B of total value locked is developing an underlying play-to-earn game.

Along with gamification, 2021 saw crypto native and non-crypto developers put a big emphasis on the digital worlds or metaverses users will inhabit. Facebook’s name change to Meta resulted in the two prominent metaverse projects The Sandbox (SAND) and Decentraland (MANA) surge another few hundred percent to finish off the year at 16,261% and 4,104% returns respectively.

With so many eyes on the crypto sector after the 2021’s breakout year, we’ll see how developing U.S. regulation and changing macro conditions affect cryptocurrencies in 2022.

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Energy

The Periodic Table of Commodity Returns (2012-2021)

Energy fuels led the way as commodity prices surged in 2021, with only precious metals providing negative returns.

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The Periodic Table of Commodity Returns (2022 Edition)

For investors, 2021 was a year in which nearly every asset class finished in the green, with commodities providing some of the best returns.

The S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI) was the third best-performing asset class in 2021, returning 37.1% and beating out real estate and all major equity indices.

This graphic from U.S. Global Investors tracks individual commodity returns over the past decade, ranking them based on their individual performance each year.

Commodity Prices Surge in 2021

After a strong performance from commodities (metals especially) in the year prior, 2021 was all about energy commodities.

The top three performers for 2021 were energy fuels, with coal providing the single best annual return of any commodity over the past 10 years at 160.6%. According to U.S. Global Investors, coal was also the least volatile commodity of 2021, meaning investors had a smooth ride as the fossil fuel surged in price.

Commodity2021 Returns
Coal160.61%
Crude Oil55.01%
Gas46.91%
Aluminum42.18%
Zinc31.53%
Nickel26.14%
Copper25.70%
Corn22.57%
Wheat20.34%
Lead18.32%
Gold-3.64%
Platinum-9.64%
Silver-11.72%
Palladium-22.21%

Source: U.S. Global Investors

The only commodities in the red this year were precious metals, which failed to stay positive despite rising inflation across goods and asset prices. Gold and silver had returns of -3.6% and -11.7% respectively, with platinum returning -9.6% and palladium, the worst performing commodity of 2021, at -22.2%.

Aside from the precious metals, every other commodity managed double-digit positive returns, with four commodities (crude oil, coal, aluminum, and wheat) having their best single-year performances of the past decade.

Energy Commodities Outperform as the World Reopens

The partial resumption of travel and the reopening of businesses in 2021 were both powerful catalysts that fueled the price rise of energy commodities.

After crude oil’s dip into negative prices in April 2020, black gold had a strong comeback in 2021 as it returned 55.01% while being the most volatile commodity of the year.

Natural gas prices also rose significantly (46.91%), with the UK and Europe’s natural gas prices rising even more as supply constraints came up against the winter demand surge.

Energy commodity returns 2021

Despite being the second worst performer of 2020 with the clean energy transition on the horizon, coal was 2021’s best commodity.

High electricity demand saw coal return in style, especially in China which accounts for one-third of global coal consumption.

Base Metals Beat out Precious Metals

2021 was a tale of two metals, as precious metals and base metals had opposing returns.

Copper, nickel, zinc, aluminum, and lead, all essential for the clean energy transition, kept up last year’s positive returns as the EV batteries and renewable energy technologies caught investors’ attention.

Demand for these energy metals looks set to continue in 2022, with Tesla having already signed a $1.5 billion deal for 75,000 tonnes of nickel with Talon Metals.

Metals price performance 2021

On the other end of the spectrum, precious metals simply sunk like a rock last year.

Investors turned to equities, real estate, and even cryptocurrencies to preserve and grow their investments, rather than the traditionally favorable gold (-3.64%) and silver (-11.72%). Platinum and palladium also lagged behind other commodities, only returning -9.64% and -22.21% respectively.

Grains Bring Steady Gains

In a year of over and underperformers, grains kept up their steady track record and notched their fifth year in a row of positive returns.

Both corn and wheat provided double-digit returns, with corn reaching eight-year highs and wheat reaching prices not seen in over nine years. Overall, these two grains followed 2021’s trend of increasing food prices, as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s food price index reached a 10-year high, rising by 17.8% over the course of the year.

Grains price performance 2021

As inflation across commodities, assets, and consumer goods surged in 2021, investors will now be keeping a sharp eye for a pullback in 2022. We’ll have to wait and see whether or not the Fed’s plans to increase rates and taper asset purchases will manage to provide price stability in commodities.

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