Take a look around any major city today, and it’s evident that humans are pretty incredible builders.
We can create suspension bridges that span the widest rivers, or sleek skyscrapers that are over 1,000 m (3,300 ft) high. Even further, we can design these complex structures with extreme amounts of precision and consistency.
But while there is no shortage of modern engineering accomplishments to marvel at, it’s true that our ancestors also made impressive feats in the field of civil engineering. Ancient cultures were able to do things that still baffle people today, such as constructing majestic pyramids, erecting flawless walls out of huge boulders, or carving out multiple underground, monolithic churches from a rocky ridge.
Engineering Feats of the Ancient World
Today’s infographic comes to us from Norwich University, and it showcases details on seven civil engineering wonders from the Ancient world.
Note: Some ancient wonders, like the Great Pyramid of Giza, Roman aqueducts, and the Great Wall of China can be found on a previous infographic that counts them among the 10 Most Impressive Civil Engineering Projects of All Time
Ancient engineers and architects were able to pull off some pretty impressive feats.
Let’s take a detailed look at the seven listed here, including the aspects that continue to baffle modern engineers today.
Ancient Man-Made Wonders
1. Saksaywaman, Peru (16th century)
Imagine three giant stone walls made of giant boulders that all fit together perfectly, like puzzle pieces. The Incas managed to build these outside of Cusco, using boulders up to 120 tons in size. No one knows how they moved them from a quarry 3 km (2 miles) away to the site – and even more perplexing is how flawless they fit together.
2. Leshan Giant Buddha, China (803 CE)
This is the world’s largest carved stone Buddha statue in the world, and it stands 232 tall in China. The carved hair of the statue even has a hidden, built-in drainage system that displaces rainwater to protect it from damage.
3. Chand Baori, India (10th century)
This one of the world’s deepest stepwells, and it provides water to a hot, arid region before modern plumbing was possible. The stairs weave 3,500 steps, or about 13 stories, down into the depths where carved stones collect rainwater.
4. Underground Churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia (12th and 13th centuries)
These 11 underground churches were carved out of rock from the top-down. They are also connected, using a complex system of drainage ditches, tunnels, and subterranean passageways.
5. Teotihuacan, Mexico (450 CE peak)
At its peak, this ancient urban city sprawled 22 miles (35 km) with over 200,000 inhabitants. Not only does it have some of the largest pyramidal structures on the planet, but it also has many other unique traits, such as being aligned with celestial, geographic, and geodetic points of significance.
6. El Mirador, Guatemala (300 BCE)
This is the largest of five known Pre-Classical Mayan cities and it contains the world’s largest pyramid by volume. A total of 15 million man-days of labor were needed to create the iconic temple, named La Danta.
7. The Lost City of Mohenjo Daro, Pakistan (2500 BCE)
This city is over 4,500 years old, and it was unknown to modern people until 1921. It housed up to 35,000 people, and contained complex water and sewage system on a grid plan. Mohenjo Daro is regarded today as one of the most important archaeological finds, unveiling details on the Indus Valley people – one of the most widespread and mysterious civilizations of the early Ancient era.
Visualized: The World’s Population at 8 Billion
Our population will soon reach a new milestone—8 billion. These visualizations show where all those people are distributed around the world
Visualized: The World’s Population at 8 Billion
At some point in late 2022, the eight billionth human being will enter the world, ushering in a new milestone for humanity.
In just 48 years, the world population has doubled in size, jumping from four to eight billion. Of course, humans are not equally spread throughout the planet, and countries take all shapes and sizes. The visualizations in this article aim to build context on how the eight billion people are distributed around the world.
For extended coverage of this moment and what it means to the world, you can get access to our full report and webinar by signing up to VC+, our premium newsletter.
Now, here’s a look at each country’s population as of September 2022:
|Global Rank||Country/Region||Population (2022)|
|3||🇺🇸 United States||335,391,957|
|16||Democratic Republic of Congo||96,104,525|
|93||United Arab Emirates||10,164,747|
|98||Papua New Guinea||9,342,727|
|104||Hong Kong SAR||7,635,279|
|125||Central African Republic||5,025,077|
|135||Bosnia and Herzegovina||3,235,985|
|154||Trinidad and Tobago||1,409,672|
|187||Sao Tome and Principe||228,652|
|194||Micronesia (Fed. States of)||123,690|
|196||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||111,732|
|199||United States Virgin Islands||104,083|
|201||Antigua and Barbuda||99,773|
|202||Isle of Man||86,049|
|208||Northern Mariana Islands||58,336|
|211||Saint Kitts and Nevis||54,052|
|215||Turks and Caicos||39,924|
|220||British Virgin Islands||30,687|
|226||Wallis and Futuna||10,818|
|230||Saint Pierre & Miquelon||5,732|
Below are regional breakdowns of population.
Africa’s Population by Country
As of 2022, Africa’s total population stands at 1.4 billion people. Many of the countries with the fastest growth rates are located in Africa and by 2050, the population of the continent is expected to jump to 2.5 billion.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and its largest economy. Based on current growth rates, Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, could even emerge as the world’s top megacity by the end of the century.
Africa has by far the lowest median age of any of the other continents.
Asia’s Population by Country
With 4.7 billion people in 2022, Asia is by far the world’s most populous region.
The continent is dominated by the two massive population centers of China and India. In 2023, a big shift will occur, with India surpassing China to become the world’s most populous country. China has held top spot for centuries, but the mismatch between the two countries’ growth rates made it only a matter of time before this milestone arrived.
Asia is a region of contrast when it comes to population growth. On the one end are countries like Singapore and Japan, which are actually shrinking. On the other, are Middle Eastern nations like Oman and Qatar, which have robust population growth rates of 4-5%.
Vietnam is on the cusp of becoming the 15th country to surpass the 100 million population mark.
Europe’s Population by Country
Europe’s population in 2022 is 750 million people—more than twice the size of the United States.
A century ago, Europe’s population was close to 30% of the world total. Today, that figure stands at less than 10%. This is, in part, due to population growth throughout other regions of the world.
More importantly though, Europe’s population is contracting in a number of places—Eastern Europe in particular. Many of the countries with the slowest growth rates are located in the Balkans and former Soviet Bloc countries.
Russia remains Europe’s largest country by population. Although the country’s landmass extends all the way across Asia, three-quarters of Russia’s people live on the European side of the country.
Germany is the second largest country in Europe, followed by the UK, France, and Italy.
Ukraine is the seventh largest population center in Europe, but it remains to be seen how the current conflict with Russia impacts the country’s long-term population prospects.
North America’s Population by Country
North America’s population is 602 million people as of 2022.
The continent is dominated by the United States, which makes up more than half of the total population. America’s population is still growing modestly (by global standards), but perhaps more interesting are the internal migration patterns that are occurring. States like Texas and Florida are seeing an influx from other states.
Canada has one of the highest population growth rates of major developed economies thanks to international migration.
Mexico is currently the 10th most populous country, but will eventually be bumped from the top 10 list by fast-growing African nations.
South America’s Population by Country
The population of South America in 2022 is 439 million. Brazil makes up nearly half of that total.
Sometime this decade, Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, will become the region’s fifth megacity (which is defined as having a population of 10 million or more). São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Lima are South America’s current megacities.
Oceania’s Population by Country
The population of the Oceania region is 44 million people—just slightly higher than the population of California.
Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea make up the lion’s share of the population of this region.
Interestingly, many of the smallest countries by population can also be found in this region.
When Will Earth’s Population Hit 9 Billion?
The next global population milestone—nine billion—will likely be hit sometime in the 2030s.
In fact, Earth’s population is expected to continue growing until it hits a peak at some point in the 2080s—possibly over the 10 billion mark.
Explainer: The Basics of DNA and Genetic Systems
All living things have a genetic system made up of DNA. This graphic explores the basics of DNA composition and structure.
Explainer: The Basics of DNA and Genetic Systems
While there is great diversity among living things, we all have one thing in common—we all rely on a genetic system made up of DNA and/or RNA.
But how do genetic systems work, and to what extent do they vary across species?
This graphic by Anne-Lise Paris explores the basics of DNA and genetic systems, including how they’re structured, and how they differ across species.
Composition of Genetic Systems: DNA and RNA
A genetic system is essentially a set of instructions that dictate our genetic makeup—what we look like and how we interact with our environment.
This set of instructions is stored in nucleic acids, the two main types being deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA).
DNA is made up of four molecules, known as nucleotides: Adenine (A), Thymine (T), Cytosine ( C), and Guanine (G). These nucleotides are grouped in sets of two, which are called base pairs.
Size of Genomes Across Different Organisms
Human DNA is made up of approximately 3.2 billion base pairs that are tightly wound up and stored in our cells. If you were to unwind and measure the DNA stored in a single human cell, it would be about 2 meters (6.5 feet) long!
This lengthy DNA is stored in pairs of chromosomes. A full collection of chromosomes, or an entire set of genetic information, is referred to as a genome.
Genomes vary in size, depending on the organism. Here is a look at 24 different species and the size of their genomes, from animals and plants to bacteria and viruses:
|Organism||Kingdom||Size of genomes (number of base pairs)|
|Hepatitis D virus||Virus||1,700|
The Marbled Lungfish has the largest known animal genome. Its genome is made up of 130 billion base pairs, which is about 126.8 billion more than the average human genome.
Comparatively, small viruses and bacteria have fewer base pairs. The Hepatitis D virus has only 1,700 base pairs, while E. coli bacteria has 4.6 million. Interestingly, research has not found a link between the size of a species’ genome and the organism’s size or complexity.
In fact, there are still a ton of unanswered questions in the field of genome research. Why do some species have small genomes? Why do some have a ton of redundant DNA? These are still questions being investigated by scientists today.
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