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Where Will the Next Billion Internet Users Come From?

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Next billion internet users

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Where Will the Next Billion Internet Users Come From?

Internet adoption has steadily increased over the years—it’s more than doubled since 2010.

Despite its widespread use, a significant portion of the global population still isn’t connected to the internet, and in certain areas of the world, the number of disconnected people skews towards higher percentages.

Using information from DataReportal, this visual highlights which regions have the greatest number of people disconnected from the web. We’ll also dive into why some regions have low numbers, and take a look at which countries have seen the most growth in the last year.

Top 10 Most Disconnected, by Number of People

The majority of countries with lower rates of internet access are in Asia and Africa. Here’s a look at the top 10 countries with the highest numbers of people not connected to the web:

RankCountry / TerritoryUnconnected People% of Population
1India685,591,07150%
2China582,063,73341%
3Pakistan142,347,73565%
4Nigeria118,059,92558%
5Bangladesh97,427,35259%
6Indonesia96,709,22636%
7Ethiopia92,385,72881%
8Democratic Republic of Congo71,823,31981%
9Brazil61,423,29529%
10Egypt46,626,17046%

*Note: Rankings only include countries/territories with populations over 50,000.

Interestingly, India has the highest number of disconnected people despite having the second largest online market in the world. That being said, 50% of the country’s population still doesn’t have internet access—for reference, only 14% of the U.S. population remains disconnected to the web. Clearly, India has some untapped potential.

China takes second place, with over 582 million people not connected to the internet. This is partly because of the country’s significant rural population—in 2019, 39% of the country’s population was living in rural areas.

The gap in internet access between rural and urban China is significant. This was made apparent during China’s recent switch to online learning in response to the pandemic. While one-third of elementary school children living in rural areas weren’t able to access their online classes, only 5.7% of city dwellers weren’t able to log on.

It’s important to note that the rural-urban divide is an issue in many countries, not just China. Even places like the U.S. struggle to provide internet access to remote or rugged rural areas.

Top 10 Most Disconnected, by Share of Population

While India, China, and Pakistan have the highest number of people without internet access, there are countries arguably more disconnected.

Here’s a look at the top 10 most disconnected countries, by share of population:

RankCountry / Territory% of PopulationUnconnected People
1North Korea100%25,722,103
2South Sudan92%10,240,199
3Eritrea92%3,228,429
4Burundi90%10,556,111
5Somalia90%14,042,139
6Niger88%20,977,412
7Papua New Guinea88%7,761,628
8Liberia88%4,372,916
9Guinea-Bissau87%1,694,458
10Central African Republic86%4,132,006

There are various reasons why these regions have a high percentage of people not online—some are political, which is the case of North Korea, where only a select few people can access the wider web. Regular citizens are restricted from using the global internet but have access to a domestic intranet called Kwangmyong.

Other reasons are financial, which is the case in South Sudan. The country has struggled with civil conflict and economic hardship for years, which has caused widespread poverty throughout the nation. It’s also stifled infrastructural development—only 2% of the country has access to electricity as of 2020, which explains why so few people have access to the web.

In the case of Papua New Guinea, a massive rural population is likely the reason behind its low percentage of internet users—80% of the population lives in rural areas, with little to no connections to modern life.

Fastest Growing Regions

While internet advancements like 5G are happening in certain regions, and showing no signs of slowing down, there’s still a long way to go before we reach global connectivity.

Despite the long road ahead, the gap is closing, and previously untapped markets are seeing significant growth. Here’s a look at the top five fast-growing regions:

RankRegionChange in internet use (From 2019 to 2020)
1Central Africa+40%
2Southern Asia+20%
3Northern Africa+14%
4Western Asia+11%
5Caribbean+9%

Africa has seen significant growth, mainly because of a massive spike of internet users in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)—between 2019 and 2020, the country’s number of internet users increased by 9 million (+122%). This growth has been facilitated by non-profit organizations and companies like Facebook, which have invested heavily in the development of Africa’s internet connectivity.

India has also seen significant growth—between 2019 and 2020, the number of internet users in the country grew by 128 million (+23%).

If these countries continue to grow at similar rates, who knows what the breakdown of internet users will look like in the next few years?

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Misc

Coffee vs Tea vs Soft Drinks: What Caffeine Drinks Do Countries Prefer?

Do you drink coffee, tea, or cola? Each country has their own drink preference.

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Coffee vs Tea vs Soft Drinks caffeine map share

Coffee vs Tea vs Soft Drinks: Caffeinated Drink Popularity

Coffee, tea, or soft drinks… How do you get your caffeine fix?

It might be the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive substance, but your preferred caffeine drink of choice might come down to where you live.

A study into caffeine consumption of 57 countries examined the role it plays in our diets, using the volume sales of caffeine-containing beverages from Euromonitor to see what caffeine source each country prefers.

The resulting map of caffeine preference shows regional trends, including some surprising standouts.

Most Purchased Caffeine Drink By Country

There are many different caffeine drinks for consumers to choose from, from brewed drinks to ready-to-drink vending machine options.

To simplify tastes, we grouped them into three types:

  • Coffee — Includes fresh brewed coffee, instant coffee, and ready-to-drink coffee.
  • Tea — Includes herbal, black, green, and other teas, as well as ready-to-drink tea.
  • Soft Drinks — Includes colas, other soft drinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks.

Here’s the full breakdown of each country’s preferred caffeine drink of choice, by volume sales.

CountryRegionMost Purchased Caffeine Drinks
KenyaAfricaTea
NigeriaAfricaSoft Drinks
South AfricaAfricaSoft Drinks
ChinaAsiaTea
Hong KongAsiaTea
IndiaAsiaTea
IndonesiaAsiaTea
IsraelAsiaSoft Drinks
JapanAsiaTea
MalaysiaAsiaTea
PhilippinesAsiaSoft Drinks
South KoreaAsiaCoffee
TaiwanAsiaTea
ThailandAsiaSoft Drinks
VietnamAsiaTea
AustriaEuropeSoft Drinks
BelgiumEuropeSoft Drinks
Bosnia-HerzegovinaEuropeCoffee
BulgariaEuropeSoft Drinks
CroatiaEuropeSoft Drinks
DenmarkEuropeCoffee
EstoniaEuropeCoffee
FinlandEuropeCoffee
FranceEuropeCoffee
GeorgiaEuropeCoffee
GermanyEuropeCoffee
GreeceEuropeCoffee
HungaryEuropeSoft Drinks
IrelandEuropeTea
ItalyEuropeSoft Drinks
LatviaEuropeTea
NetherlandsEuropeCoffee
NorwayEuropeCoffee
PolandEuropeCoffee
PortugalEuropeSoft Drinks
RomaniaEuropeSoft Drinks
SloveniaEuropeCoffee
SpainEuropeSoft Drinks
SwedenEuropeCoffee
SwitzerlandEuropeSoft Drinks
TurkeyEuropeTea
UKEuropeTea
CanadaNorth AmericaCoffee
Costa RicaNorth AmericaCoffee
Dominican RepublicNorth AmericaCoffee
GuatemalaNorth AmericaSoft Drinks
MexicoNorth AmericaSoft Drinks
U.S.North AmericaSoft Drinks
AustraliaOceaniaSoft Drinks
New ZealandOceaniaTea
ArgentinaSouth AmericaSoft Drinks
BoliviaSouth AmericaSoft Drinks
BrazilSouth AmericaCoffee
ChileSouth AmericaSoft Drinks
ColombiaSouth AmericaSoft Drinks
UruguaySouth AmericaSoft Drinks
VenezuelaSouth AmericaSoft Drinks

Examining the regional spread shows us some expected caffeine strongholds.

Tea was the preferred drink of choice for many countries in most of Asia, including China, India, Indonesia, and Japan. But it also showed a strong foothold in Africa, as Kenya is the world’s largest black tea exporter, and in Europe, as Turkey, Ireland, and the UK are the world’s top three tea-consuming countries per capita.

Coffee was the most preferred caffeine drink in a number of countries in Europe, including all of the Nordic countries. It is also the drink of choice in Canada, South Korea, and Brazil, the latter two being the only countries in Asia and South America to prefer coffee.

Perhaps most surprising is the global preference for soft drinks. The U.S. and most of Latin America overwhelmingly consumed soft drinks over other caffeine drinks, as did the Philippines, Thailand, and Australia. Even in Europe, some countries that are heavy coffee drinkers like Italy and Switzerland purchased more soft drinks than coffee by narrow margins.

Coke’s Influence on the Coffee vs Tea vs Soft Drinks Debate

Though the global map of caffeine preference looks regionally-specific at a glance, there are some notable business influences at play.

The proliferation of soft drinks in Latin America is largely due to the power of Coca-Cola. Mexico, the country which preferred soft drinks the most over other drinks, is also the world’s biggest consumer of Coca-Cola per capita. Coca-Cola also reached far beyond the borders of the U.S. where it originated, becoming a staple drink in many parts of Europe, Australia, and Asia.

This power of brands extends to coffee as well. Many coffee-preferring countries actually leaned more towards instant coffee purchases over freshly brewed coffee, a mark of the lasting influence of Nestlé’s brand of instant coffee, Nescafé.

But it’s important to note that many countries were not tabulated, and that caffeine purchases don’t differentiate between every single possible caffeine drink. There are many different types of coffees, teas, soft drinks, and even yerba mate for consumers to choose from.

As a snapshot of global caffeine consumption, it’s a reminder that the world’s most commonly consumed psychoactive stimulant is taken in many different forms. Both throughout history, and in modern times.

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Maps

1 Billion Years of Tectonic Plate Movement in 40 Seconds

This animated map shows the last billion years of Earth’s tectonic plate movement in just 40 seconds.

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1 Billion Years of Tectonic Plate Movement in 40 Seconds

According to plate tectonic theory, the Earth’s surface is made up of slabs of rock that are slowly shifting right under our feet.

Because of this constant movement, today’s Earth looks a lot different from what it did millions of years ago. Today’s animation looks at the Earth’s tectonic plate movement from 1 ga (geological time for 1 billion years ago) to the present-day, via EarthByte on YouTube.

Editor’s note: The video starts at time 1,000 ma (1,000 million years ago), and ticks down at the rate of about 25 million years every second.

The Emergence of Plate Tectonic Theory

Plate tectonics is a relatively new theory—in fact, according to National Geographic, it hadn’t become popular until the 1960s. However, the concept of continental movement was brewing long before it became widely accepted.

In 1912, German scientist Alfred Wegener proposed a theory he called continental drift. According to Wegener’s theory, Earth’s continents once formed a single, giant landmass, which he called Pangaea.

Over millions of years, Pangaea slowly broke apart, eventually forming the continents as they are today. Wegener believed this continental drift explained why the borders of South America and Africa looked like matching puzzle pieces. He also pointed to similar rock formations and fossils on these two continents as proof to back his theory.

Initially, the scientific community wasn’t on board with the theory of continental drift. But as more data emerged over the years, including research on seafloor spreading, the theory started to gain traction.

The Supercontinent Cycle

Nowadays, it’s believed that Pangea was just one of several supercontinents to mass together (and break apart) over the course of geological history.

The exact number of supercontinents is largely debated, but according to the Encylopedia of Geology, here are five (including Pangea) that are widely recognized:

  • Kenorland: 2.7-2.5 billion years ago
  • Nuna/Columbia: 1.6-1.4 billion years ago
  • Rodinia: 950–800 million years ago
  • Pannotia: 620-580 million years ago
  • Pangea: 325-175 million years ago

According to the theory, this cycle of breaking apart and coming together happens because of subduction, which occurs when tectonic plates converge with one another.

The supercontinent cycle also ties into ocean formation. The below example of the Wilson Cycle specifically keys in on how the Atlantic Ocean, and its predecessor, the Iapetus Ocean, were formed as supercontinents drifted apart:

the Wilson Cycle

Source: Hannes Grobe

The Importance of Plate Tectonics

Plate tectonics has been a game-changer for geologists. The theory has helped to explain tons of unanswered geological questions, assisting scientists in understanding how volcanoes, mountains, and ocean ridges are formed.

It’s also valuable for the oil and gas industry since it explains how sedimentary basins were created, allowing geologists and engineers to target and locate vast oil reserves.

Since the theory of plate tectonics is relatively new, there’s still a lot to be discovered in this field of research. However, in March 2021, a report was published in Earth-Science Reviews that, for the first time, visualized a continuous plate model that shows how Earth’s plates have shifted over the last billion years.

The video above visualizes this particular report and accurately depicts the Earth’s tectonic plates’ movement or the observed shift in Earth’s tectonic plates over the years.

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