Which countries do people live in, globally?
It’s a very simple question, but it’s also hard to get an accurate sense of the answer by browsing through a lengthy table of country-level population data.
That’s because there are close to 200 countries spread around the globe, with populations ranging from near 1.4 billion (China or India) to countries a mere 0.001% of that size. How is it possible to do the mental math in interpreting such a wide range of data points simultaneously?
Visualizing the World’s Population
Today’s data visualization comes to us from PopulationPyramid.net, a fantastic resource for data on global population numbers.
It allows us to see the location of the world’s 7.5 billion people by resizing countries based on their populations and then coloring and organizing them by region.
This simple application of data visualization makes it more intuitive to comprehend where people live around the globe, as well as how different countries compare in size.
The first thing you might notice on the graphic is the relative size of regions, with Asia taking up a whopping 60% of the visual space.
Here are those numbers by region broken down further:
|Rank||Region||Share of Global Population (%)||Population|
|#4||North America||7%||534 million|
|#5||South America||6%||424 million|
|#6||Central America||1%||47 million|
When you look at it this way, you can really see how the math breaks down.
About 75% of people reside in Asia or Africa. Meanwhile, the regions of Europe, North America, South America, and Oceania just total together to 25% of the mix.
The 10 Most Populous Countries
There are some countries that are clear standouts on the data visualization.
For example, China and India combine to 2.7 billion people, together accounting for 36% of the total global population.
Those heavyweights aside, there are other notable countries that take up significant amounts of real estate on the visualization as well:
|Rank||Country||Population (2017)||% of global total|
|#3||🇺🇸 United States||326,474,013||4.3%|
|Top 10 Total||4,358,978,629||58.0%|
The United States, Indonesia, Brazil, and Pakistan rank between #3 and #6, and have about a billion people between them.
Nigeria, which is #7 on the list, has the world’s fastest growing megacity within its borders. Further, Bangladesh is also a noteworthy entry since it is one of the densest populations globally, with 1,138.9 people per square kilometer of land.
A Final Look at Global Population
This isn’t the first time we’ve shown you a data visualization that organizes the global population – here’s one we previously published that shows each country in a bubble chart:
While this uses slightly older data, it is still interesting to see how data visualization can help us understand a complex and wide-ranging set of data that is relevant to everyday life.
Charted: The World’s Working Poor, by Country (1991-2021)
This graphic shows the regional breakdown of the world’s working poor, and how this demographic has changed since 1995.
Charting Three Decades of the World’s Working Poor
Poverty is often associated with unemployment—however, millions of working people around the world are living in what’s considered to be extreme poverty, or less than $1.90 per day.
Thankfully, the world’s population of poor workers has decreased substantially over the last few decades. But how exactly has it changed since 1991, and where is the majority of the working poor population living today?
This graphic by Gilbert Fontana uses data from the International Labour Organization (ILO) to show the regional breakdown of the world’s working poor, and how this demographic has changed in the last few decades.
From Asia to Africa
In 1991, about 808 million employed people were living in extreme poverty, or nearly 15% of the global population at the time.
As the graphic above shows, a majority of this population lived in Eastern Asia, most notably in China, which was the world’s most populous country until only very recently.
However, thanks to China’s economic reforms, and political reforms like the National “8-7” Poverty Reduction Plan, millions of people in the country were lifted out of poverty.
Today, Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the world’s highest concentration of working poor. Below, we’ll take a closer look at the region and zoom in on select countries.
Zooming in on Sub-Saharan Africa
As of 2021, 11 of the 49 countries that make up Sub-Saharan Africa had a working poverty rate that made up over half their population.
Here’s a look at these 11 countries, and the percentage of their working population that lives in extreme poverty:
|Rank||Country||Working Poverty Rate (% of total population)|
|3||🇨🇩 DR Condo||69%|
|5||🇨🇫 Central African Republic||63%|
Burundi is first on the list, with 79% of its working population living below the poverty line. One reason for this is the country’s struggling economy—Burundi has the lowest GDP per capita of any country in the world.
Because of the economic conditions in the country, many people struggle to meet their basic needs. For instance, it’s estimated that 40% of urban dwellers in Burundi don’t have access to safe drinking water.
But Burundi is not alone, with other countries like Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of the Congo also having more than two-thirds of their working population in extreme poverty. Which countries will be able to able to lift their people out of poverty next?
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