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Comparing Population Pyramids Around the World

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Population Pyramids

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Visualization comparing countries and their population pyramids

Understanding and Comparing Population Pyramids

Demographic data can reveal all kinds of insights about a population, from the country’s fertility and mortality rates to how certain events and policies have shaped the makeup of a population.

Population pyramids are one of the best ways to visualize population data, and comparing the pyramids of various countries and regions side-by-side can reveal unexpected insights and differences between groups.

This graphic uses population data from the United Nations to compare the demographics of some select nations and regions of the world, showcasing how much age distributions can vary.

Three Types of Population Pyramids

Although population pyramids can come in all shapes and sizes, most generally fall into three distinct categories:

  • Expansive Pyramids: Recognized by their traditional “pyramid-like” shape with a broad base and narrow top, expansive pyramids reflect a population with a high birth rate along with a high mortality rate which is most common in developing countries.
  • Constrictive Pyramids: With a narrow base and thicker middle and top sections of the pyramid, constrictive pyramids often occur in developed economies whose populations have low birth rates and long life expectancies.
  • Stationary Pyramids: These pyramids showcase an evenly distributed population across age groups, often found in newly-developed countries which have stable birth and mortality rates.

Each population pyramid is essentially a visual snapshot of a nation’s current demographic breakdown, shaped by fluctuating birth and mortality rates as well as changes to immigration and social policies.

Understanding the inherent risks associated with different pyramid types can help give insight into the challenges these populations face.

The Risks of Different Population Pyramid Types

Each type of population pyramid structure has unique challenges and advantages often characterized by the country or region’s current stage of economic development.

Populations with expansive pyramids, such as the one representing the continent of Africa, have the advantage of a larger youth and working-aged population, however this advantage can be rendered null if job growth, education, and health care aren’t prioritized.

Countries with constrictive pyramids like Japan face the challenge of supporting their outsized aging population with a diminishing working-aged population. While immigration and increasing birth rates can help in both the short and long term, due to the working population being outnumbered, countries with constrictive pyramids must find ways to increase their productivity to avoid potential declines in economic growth.

China and India’s Demographics Compared

After the world’s population reached eight billion people last year, 2023 brought a new population milestone as India overtook China as the world’s most populous country.

When you compare the two nations’ population pyramids, you can see how India’s population has a strong base of young and working-aged people compared to China’s more constrictive population pyramid that also features a higher median age.

This demographic difference is largely shaped by China’s one-child policy which since 2021 was loosened to be a three-child policy. As a result, China’s total fertility rate is around 1.2 today, in contrast to India’s total fertility rate of 2.0.

While India is set to ride the productivity boom of its large working-age population, the country will have to ensure it can keep its population pyramid stable as the majority of the population ages and total fertility rates continue to decline.

 

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Maps

Mapped: The World’s Wettest and Driest Countries

From tropical rainforests to the sandy deserts of North Africa, the world’s wettest and driest countries are a study in contrasts.

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A cropped map of the wettest and driest countries in the world along with their average annual precipitation in millimeters.

Where are the World’s Wettest and Driest Countries?

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

From tropical rainforest nations to the sandy deserts of North Africa and the Middle East, the world’s wettest and driest countries are a study in contrasts.

We map and rank the countries that receive the highest and lowest average annual precipitation in millimeters, per latest data from the World Bank.

Ranked: Top 10 Wettest Countries

Colombia tops the list of nations with the highest average precipitation at 3,240 millimeters (128 inches) in a year.

Its Tutunendo district is the one of the world’s wettest places, averaging nearly 12,000 mm (463 inches) of rain annually.

RankCountryAverage Annual
Precipitation (mm)
1Colombia3,240
2Sao Tome & Principe3,200
3Papua New Guinea3,142
4Solomon Islands3,028
5Panama2,928
6Costa Rica2,926
7Samoa2,880
8Malaysia2,875
9Brunei2,722
10Indonesia2,702

Note: Figures are rounded.

Off the coast of Africa however, Sao Tome & Principe is not far behind Colombia, receiving about 3,200 mm of rain in 2020.

Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands also average more than 3,000 mm of rain in a year, and Panama (2,928 mm) rounds out the top five.

Noticeably, all 10 countries lie in close proximity to the equator, and near oceans, where rising hot and humid air leads to abundant rainfall.

Ranked: Top 10 Driest Countries

On the other end of the scale, Egypt records the lowest average annual rainfall across all countries, at 18 mm (0.7 inches). For comparison, Colombia receives nearly 180x the amount of rain Egypt does.

RankCountryAverage Annual
Precipitation (mm)
1Egypt18
2Libya56
3Saudi Arabia59
4Qatar74
5UAE78
6Bahrain83
7Algeria89
8Mauritania92
9Jordan111
10Kuwait121

Note: Figures are rounded.

In fact, countries from North Africa and the Middle East make up the entirety of this list of the driest countries in the world.

Learn More About Rainfall From Visual Capitalist

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out Mapping the Unequal Distribution of Global Precipitation which divides the world into two halves: one that receives more than global average of rain (or snow), and one that receives less.

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Visualizing Asia's Water Dilemma

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