Infographic: Seven Man-Made Engineering Wonders of the Ancient World
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Seven Man-Made Engineering Wonders of the Ancient World

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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

Seven Man-Made Engineering Wonders of the Ancient World

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.

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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

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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 RankCountry/RegionPopulation (2022)
1🇨🇳 China1,451,832,064
2🇮🇳 India1,410,982,243
3🇺🇸 United States335,391,957
4🇮🇩 Indonesia280,139,383
5🇵🇰 Pakistan230,918,073
6🇧🇷 Brazil215,986,577
7🇳🇬 Nigeria218,243,241
8🇧🇩 Bangladesh168,436,792
9🇷🇺 Russia146,074,130
10🇲🇽 Mexico132,030,739
11Japan125,619,457
12Ethiopia121,709,461
13Philippines112,939,493
14Egypt106,839,825
15Vietnam98,311,965
16Democratic Republic of Congo96,104,525
17Turkey86,415,852
18Iran86,465,398
19Germany84,385,892
20Thailand70,192,866
21United Kingdom68,691,253
22France65,597,276
23Italy60,264,287
24Tanzania63,802,882
25South Africa61,027,608
26Myanmar55,236,333
27Kenya56,557,929
28South Korea51,367,770
29Colombia52,123,686
30Spain46,795,195
31Uganda49,222,889
32Argentina46,141,195
33Algeria45,695,757
34Sudan46,265,964
35Ukraine43,156,242
36Iraq42,348,230
37Afghanistan40,993,541
38Poland37,754,428
39Canada38,495,773
40Morocco37,914,397
41Saudi Arabia36,069,266
42Uzbekistan34,589,376
43Peru34,031,086
44Angola35,327,540
45Malaysia33,319,730
46Mozambique33,346,961
47Ghana32,594,574
48Yemen31,371,445
49Nepal30,357,476
50Venezuela28,257,503
51Madagascar29,381,411
52Cameroon28,111,718
53Cote d'Ivoire27,925,649
54North Korea26,033,387
55Australia26,178,342
56Niger26,344,186
57Taiwan23,913,311
58Sri Lanka21,615,470
59Burkina Faso22,270,251
60Mali21,646,251
61Romania18,956,053
62Malawi20,304,147
63Chile19,489,734
64Kazakhstan19,292,183
65Zambia19,613,655
66Guatemala18,688,479
67Ecuador18,262,799
68Syria18,506,569
69Netherlands17,219,859
70Senegal17,793,385
71Cambodia17,252,457
72Chad17,553,601
73Somalia16,951,984
74Zimbabwe15,362,663
75Guinea13,981,705
76Rwanda13,712,855
77Benin12,878,142
78Burundi12,740,471
79Tunisia12,101,418
80Bolivia12,039,974
81Belgium11,703,272
82Haiti11,721,737
83Cuba11,311,223
84South Sudan11,494,756
85Dominican Republic11,096,411
86Czechia10,753,478
87Greece10,310,847
88Jordan10,434,463
89Portugal10,130,876
90Azerbaijan10,347,430
91Sweden10,241,804
92Honduras10,269,662
93United Arab Emirates10,164,747
94Hungary9,605,987
95Tajikistan10,042,202
96Belarus9,442,398
97Austria9,122,566
98Papua New Guinea9,342,727
99Serbia8,659,648
100Israel8,969,013
101Switzerland8,798,256
102Togo8,798,256
103Sierra Leone8,357,040
104Hong Kong SAR7,635,279
105Laos7,519,384
106Paraguay7,333,782
107Bulgaria6,833,885
108Libya7,086,602
109Lebanon6,758,016
110Nicaragua6,805,420
111Kyrgyzstan6,774,001
112El Salvador6,560,071
113Turkmenistan6,236,038
114Singapore5,954,898
115Denmark5,838,070
116Finland5,559,984
117Congo5,839,721
118Slovakia5,465,545
119Norway5,517,561
120Oman5,414,812
121Palestine5,381,277
122Costa Rica5,200,150
123Liberia5,338,398
124Ireland5,064,136
125Central African Republic5,025,077
126New Zealand4,911,293
127Mauritania4,940,298
128Panama4,472,108
129Kuwait4,416,533
130Croatia4,049,640
131Moldova4,013,174
132Georgia3,972,171
133Eritrea3,659,593
134Uruguay3,500,798
135Bosnia and Herzegovina3,235,985
136Mongolia3,400,693
137Armenia2,975,648
138Jamaica2,990,290
139Qatar2,994,073
140Albania2,870,809
141Puerto Rico2,704,519
142Lithuania2,640,339
143Namibia2,648,122
144Gambia2,578,866
145Botswana2,462,832
146Gabon2,349,783
147Lesotho2,180,846
148North Macedonia2,083,183
149Slovenia2,079,575
150Guinea-Bissau2,077,878
151Latvia1,840,901
152Bahrain1,845,321
153Equatorial Guinea1,514,454
154Trinidad and Tobago1,409,672
155Estonia1,328,527
156Timor1,377,091
157Mauritius1,276,493
158Cyprus1,227,303
159Eswatini1,187,627
160Djibouti1,021,185
161Fiji911,185
162Réunion909,806
163Comoros913,105
164Guyana795,114
165Bhutan791,064
166Solomon Islands726,764
167Macao SAR669,734
168Montenegro628,243
169Luxembourg649,600
170Western Sahara632,115
171Suriname598,608
172Cape Verde569,810
173Maldives561,291
174Malta444,182
175Brunei447,038
176Guadeloupe400,277
177Belize414,449
178Bahamas401,818
179Martinique374,617
180Iceland346,259
181Vanuatu324,088
182French Guiana317,076
183Barbados288,162
184New Caledonia291,762
185French Polynesia284,580
186Mayotte288,384
187Sao Tome and Principe228,652
188Samoa201,401
189Saint Lucia185,519
190Channel Islands177,517
191Guam172,146
192Curaçao165,604
193Kiribati123,690
194Micronesia (Fed. States of)123,690
195Grenada113,966
196Saint Vincent and the Grenadines111,732
197Aruba107,787
198Tonga108,440
199United States Virgin Islands104,083
200Seychelles99,725
201Antigua and Barbuda99,773
202Isle of Man86,049
203Andorra77,542
204Dominica72,387
205Cayman Islands67,492
206Bermuda61,769
207Marshall Islands60,095
208Northern Mariana Islands58,336
209Greenland56,991
210American Samoa54,920
211Saint Kitts and Nevis54,052
212Faeroe Islands49,281
213Sint Maarten43,991
214Monaco39,873
215Turks and Caicos39,924
216Saint Martin40,198
217Liechtenstein38,374
218San Marino34,091
219Gibraltar33,669
220British Virgin Islands30,687
221Caribbean Netherlands26,779
222Palau18,288
223Cook Islands17,600
224Anguilla15,308
225Tuvalu12,126
226Wallis and Futuna10,818
227Nauru10,978
228Saint Barthelemy9,945
229Saint Helena6,118
230Saint Pierre & Miquelon5,732
231Montserrat4,999
232Falkland Islands3,723
233Niue1,651
234Tokelau1,396
235Holy See806

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.

Data visualization showing a population breakdown of African countries in 2022

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.

Data visualization showing a population breakdown of Asian countries in 2022

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.

Data visualization showing a population breakdown of European countries in 2022

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.

Data visualization showing a population breakdown of North American countries in 2022

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.

Data visualization showing a population breakdown of South American countries in 2022

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.

Data visualization showing a population breakdown of Oceania's countries in 2022

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.

world at 8 billion report

Where does this data come from?

Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division via Worldometer’s live tracker (as of Sept 27, 2022).

Context: The UN has estimated that November 15th, 2022, will be the date that the world population officially hits 8 billion.

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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.

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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).

While most living things rely on a mix of DNA and RNA for cellular reproduction, some viruses just use RNA to store their genetic information and replicate faster.

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:

OrganismKingdomSize of genomes (number of base pairs)
Poplar treePlant500,000,000
HumanAnimal3,200,000,000
ChimpanzeeAnimal3,300,000,000
Marbled lungfishAnimal130,000,000,000
DogAnimal2,400,000,000
WheatPlant16,800,000,000
PufferfishAnimal400,000,000
Canopy plantPlant150,000,000,000
Mouse-ear cressPlant140,000,000
CornPlant2,300,000,000
MouseAnimal2,800,000,000
MossPlant510,000,000
Fruit FlyAnimal140,000,000
C. ruddiiBacteria160,000
S. pombeFungi13,000,000
S. cerevisiaeFungi12,000,000
S. cellulosumBacteria13,000,000
H. pyloriBacteria1,700,000
E. coliBacteria4,600,000
Panadoravirus s.Virus2,800,000
HIV-1Virus9,700
Influenza AVirus14,000
BacteriophageVirus49,000
Hepatitis D virusVirus1,700

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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