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:
|Rank||Country / Territory||Unconnected People||% of Population|
|8||Democratic Republic of Congo||71,823,319||81%|
*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:
|Rank||Country / Territory||% of Population||Unconnected People|
|7||Papua New Guinea||88%||7,761,628|
|10||Central African Republic||86%||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:
|Rank||Region||Change in internet use (From 2019 to 2020)|
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?
Mapped: Which Countries Recognize Israel or Palestine, or Both?
In this visualization, we look at how international recognition of Israel and Palestine breaks down among the 193 UN member states.
Which Countries Recognize Israel or Palestine, or Both?
The modern-day conflict between Israel and Palestine emerged from the British Mandate for Palestine, which administered the former Ottoman Empire territory after World War I. But even after 75 years—and declarations of independence from each side—universal recognition eludes them.
In this visualization, we look at how Israel and Palestine recognition breaks down among the 193 UN member states as of November 14, 2023, using Wikpedia data for each state.
A Declaration of Independence
The Jewish People’s Council declared the foundation of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948 (the same day that the last British forces left Haifa) on the basis of the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which divided the Mandate territories between Jewish and Arab populations.
U.S. President Truman granted de-facto recognition 11 minutes after the Israeli declaration. Not to be outdone by their Cold War adversary, the U.S.S.R. followed suit three days later with de-jure recognition and was joined by Warsaw Pact allies Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Poland.
By the end of 1948, 21 countries recognized Israel.
A Second Declaration of Independence
A declaration of independence for the State of Palestine, comprising the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, didn’t happen until 40 years later.
In the midst of the First Intifada, a five-year-long Palestinian uprising that began in 1987, the Palestine Liberation Organization proclaimed the new state in the city of Algiers on November 15, 1988.
A dozen countries, including 10 members of the Arab League along with Malaysia and Yemen, immediately recognized the new state. The Soviet Union, the Eastern Bloc, and most of the Muslim world also joined in recognizing the State of Palestine.
Recognition of Israel and Palestine by Country
As of November 2023, 163 UN member states have recognized Israel, while 138 have recognized Palestine.
|UN Member State||Recognize Israel 🇮🇱||Recognize Palestine 🇵🇸|
|🇦🇬||Antigua and Barbuda||Yes||Yes|
|🇧🇦||Bosnia and Herzegovina||Yes||Yes|
|🇨🇫||Central African Republic||Yes||Yes|
|🇨🇩||Democratic Republic of the Congo||Yes||Yes|
|🇫🇲||Federated States of Micronesia||Yes||No|
|🇵🇬||Papua New Guinea||Yes||Yes|
|🇨🇬||Republic of the Congo||Yes||Yes|
|🇰🇳||Saint Kitts and Nevis||Yes||Yes|
|🇻🇨||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||Yes||Yes|
|🇸🇹||São Tomé and Príncipe||Yes||Yes|
|🇹🇹||Trinidad and Tobago||Yes||No|
|🇦🇪||United Arab Emirates||Yes||Yes|
Most of the countries that do not currently recognize Israel are Muslim-majority countries. However, some Muslim-majority countries have recognized Israel, such as Egypt and Jordan, who specifically agreed to do so under peace treaties signed in 1979 and 1994 respectively.
Several conflicts have also resulted in some countries suspending relations with Israel. The 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli Wars (also called the Six-Day War and Yom Kippur War, respectively) all saw countries suspend diplomatic relations, including Mali and the Maldives. In the case of Eastern Bloc countries that did so in 1967 and 1973, many resumed relations after the fall of the Soviet Union.
On the other side, despite more countries recognizing the State of Palestine over time, none of the G7 and only nine of the G20 have recognized the state. Similarly, only a minority of the EU has endorsed the declaration.
Israel and Palestine continue to vie for recognition in the international arena, with the former gaining recognition from a few countries including Bhutan and the UAE in 2020, and the latter from Colombia in 2018 and Saint Kitts and Nevis in 2019.
But universal recognition continues to elude both sides, with many countries awaiting a formal resolution to the conflict from the two sides.
It’s worth noting that both Israel and Palestine took steps towards recognition under the Oslo Accords, signed on September 13, 1993. The agreement saw Palestine recognize the State of Israel, put an end to the First Intifada, and allowed for limited self-government under a new Palestinian National Authority in Gaza and the West Bank. It promised to lay the groundwork for a two-state solution; a promise of peace that has yet to be realized.
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