List of most highly-populated countries

List of most highly-populated countries

This is a list of some of the high-populated countries, continents, and regions in the world.



Despite sustained domestic and international efforts to improve economic and demographic prospects, Bangladesh remains a developing nation, in part due to its large population. [" [ Reproductive Health and Rights is Fundamental for Sound Economic Development and Poverty Alleviation] ," United Nations Population Fund. Retrieved 17 July 2007.] Its per capita income in 2006 was US$2300, compared to the world average of $10,200.

Recent (2005-2007) estimates of Bangladesh's population range from 142 to 159 million, making it the 7th most populous nation in the world. With a land area of 143,998 square kilometers (55,600 sq mi (143,998 km²), ranked 94th), the population density is remarkable. A striking comparison is offered by the fact that Russia's population is only slightly smaller., Bangladesh boasts the highest population density in the world, excluding a handful of city-states. Bangladesh's population growth was among the highest in the world in the 1960s and 1970s, when the count grew from 50 to 90 million, but with the promotion of birth control in the 1980s, the growth rate slowed. The total fertility rate is now 3.1 children per woman, compared with 6.2 three decades ago. The population is relatively young, with the 0–25 age group comprising 60%, while 3% are 65 or older.cite web |url= |title=World Health Report 2005 |publisher=World Health Organization]

Bangladesh remains among the poorest nations in the world. Many people are landless and forced to live on and cultivate flood-prone land. Nearly half of the population lives on less than 1 US$ per day.cite web |url= |title=Congressional Budget Justification - FY 2005 |publisher=USAID]

India and the People's Republic of China

India has a significant overpopulation problem. India is experiencing major problems with declining water tables due to over-extraction beyond sustainable yield. India is building desalination plants to solve this problem. [] Because India has the same population density as Japan, some have claimed that India's poverty is caused by underdevelopment, not overpopulation. [ [ Is America # One ] ]

However, if the People's Republic of China and India were to consume as much resources per capita as United States together they would require two planet Earths just to sustain their two economies. [ [ Booming nations 'threaten Earth'] ] [ [ As Consumerism Spreads, Earth Suffers, Study Says] ]

The Worldwatch Institute said the booming economies of the People's Republic of China and India are planetary powers that are shaping the global biosphere. The State of the World 2006 report said the two countries' high economic growth hid a reality of severe pollution. The report states:

:"The world's ecological capacity is simply insufficient to satisfy the ambitions of the People's republic of China, India, Japan, Europe and the United States as well as the aspirations of the rest of the world in a sustainable way." [ [ China and India Key to Ecological Future of the World, Says Report] ]

North America


Petén region

This region is inhabited by mostly indigenous peoples. The resource base is stretched thin by deforestation and inability of the fragile tropical forest soils to provide high yield agriculture. Decades of non-sustainable agriculture including considerable slash-and-burn activity by native peoples have left the region unable to feed or support the present population (in terms of food, drinking water, sanitation and other factors). [ [ Cèsar Barrientos, Asociacion para la Recuperacion, Manejo y Sana Emiento Ambiental and Victor Hugo Fernandez, "Guatemala Case Study"] ]


Haiti averages approximately 250 people per square kilometre (650 per sq. mi.). Fertility rate (TFR) in Haiti is 4.86 lifetime births per woman (2007 est.). [ [ Haiti Total fertility rate - Demographics] ] In 1925, Haiti was a lush tropical paradise, with 60% of its original forest covering the lands and mountainous regions. Since then, the population has cut down all but 2% of its forest cover, and in the process has destroyed fertile farmland soils, while contributing to desertification. [cite web |url= |title=Forestry |publisher= |accessdate=2006-09-18] Haiti remains one of the least-developed countries in the Western Hemisphere. Haiti now ranks 154th of 177 countries in the UN’s Human Development Index (2006). According to the CIA World Factbook, about 80% of the population lives in poverty. Haiti is the only country in the Americas on the WHO list of Least Developed Countries. Unemployment staying high, rising sharply in the mid to late 90's peaking at 70% in 1999 (2000 CIA World Factbook is the source for that number), and then decreasing to the usual rates of around 50% in recent years.

United States

Americans constitute approximately 5% of the world's population, but consume about 25% of the world’s resources, [ [ Illinois Recycling Association Recycling Facts] ] including approximately 26% of the world's energy. [ [ SEI: Energy Consumption] ] The United States holds only around 3% of the world’s known oil reserves [ [ NRDC: Reducing U.S. Oil Dependence] ] and generates approximately 30% of the world’s waste. [PDFlink| [ Waste Watcher] |62.9 KiB ] [ [ Alarm sounds on US population boom - The Boston Globe] ] The average American's impact on the environment is approximately 250 times greater than the average Sub-Saharan African's. [ [ Consumption Industrialized, Commercialized, Dehumanized, and Deadly] ] [ [ October 4, 2006: U.S. Population Reaches 300 Million, Heading for 400 Million: No Cause for Celebration] ]

The energy used by other countries to produce the products that are imported into the US could be counted in addition to the 26% of the world's energy that is consumed doemestically in the US. Likewise, other developed countries are also comsuming additional energy in the form of that used for their imports of food or products. The US Department of Energy has made reference to this additional consumption but has not yet quantified it.Fact|date=April 2008

U.S. Census Bureau figures show the U.S. population grew by 2.8 million between July 1, 2004, and July 1, 2005. If current birth rate and immigration rates were to remain unchanged for another 60 to 70 years, US population would double to approximately 600 million people. [ [ US population to pass 300 million milestone] ] The United States had approximately one million people in 1700, and approximately five million in 1800. [ [ Balancing ACT - population growth E: The Environmental Magazine] ]

Some people, such as Julian Simon, counter this with the claim that through innovation, science, and technology, the United States creates more resources than it uses. [ [ The Ultimate Resource II: People, Materials, and Environment ] ] Likewise, in an article in The New York Times, John Tierney said that all of the garbage produced in the United States fills up less than convert|10|sqmi|km2 of landfill per year, and that after the landfills are full, much of that land gets turned into parks. [ [ "Recycling ... Is Garbage" by John Tierney ] ] . However this view fails to take into account the energy that is lost when an item is buried instead of re-entering the materials stream.


Paul Ehrlich made the point that a state or nation may have a large land area or considerable wealth (which implies, by conventional wisdom, that overpopulation should not be at play), and yet be overpopulated. [Paul Ehrlich, "The Population Bomb", Buccaneer Books; Reprint edition (December 1995) ISBN 1568495870] The U.S. state of Arizona, for example, has enormous land area, but has neither the carrying capacity of arable land or potable water [PDFlink| [ Critical water basins worldwide] ] [ [ Colorado River Water Users Association: Arizona] ] to support its population. While it imports food, using its wealth to offset this shortfall, that only serves to illustrate that it has insufficient carrying capacity. The only way that Arizona (and Southern California) obtains sufficient water is by extraction of water [ [ Stakeholders in the Colorado River] ] from the Colorado River beyond its fair share [ [ Allocation by U.S. of Colorado River use beyond fair share] ] (and beyond its own carrying capacity of innate water resources), based on international standards of fair use per lineal mile of river. [ [ John F. Kennedy Library, Ralph A. Dungen #8.6 White House Files, Washington DC] ] [Abernethy, C. L., ed. Intersectoral Management of River Basins. Proceedings of an International Workshop on "Integrated Water Management in Water-Stressed River Basins in Developing Countries: Strategies for Poverty Alleviation and Agricultural Growth," Loskop Dam, South Africa, 16­21 October 2000. Colombo, Sri Lanka: IWMI and German Foundation for International Development (DSE), 2001.; Mostert, E., ed. River Basin Management. Proceedings of the International Workshop, The Hague, 27­29 October. UNESCO, 1999] [ [ Mexico's small share of Colorado River extraction] ] Recently Arizona has considered desalination as a way to eliminate water shortages. []


According to the California Department of Water Resources, if more supplies aren’t found by 2020, residents will face a shortfall nearly as great as the amount consumed today. Los Angeles is a coastal desert able to support at most 1 million people on its own water; the Los Angeles basin now is the core of a megacity that spans convert|220|mi|km from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border. The region’s population is expected to reach 22 million by 2020, 28 million in 2035, and 33 million in 2050. The population of California continues to grow by more than a half million a year and is expected to reach 48 million in 2030. Water shortage issues are likely to arise well before then. California is considering using energy-expensive desalination to solve this problem. [] [ [ GE Makes Critical Investment in Southern California Seawater Desalination Project ] ] [ [ News: Huntington Beach desalination plant team selected - ] ]



Ethiopia has more fertile land per person than the United Kingdom. In the 1970s, the Ethiopian government seized the farmland from the farmers. This contributed to a 1984 - 1985 famine in Ethiopia. Ethiopia's famine is aggravated by high population growth, bad governance, inefficient agricultural policies, misplaced budgetary priorities, [ [ Ethiopia rejects war criticism] ] abject poverty, poor infrastructure, lack of access to fertilizers and pesticides, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and internal conflicts. [ [ Humanitarian Crises in Ethiopia and Eritrea] ] High population growth is a major factor. [ [ Country Report - Ethiopia] ]

Ethiopia's population has grown from 18 million in 1950 to an estimated 77 million today [ [ Countries with highest population for 1950, 2005 and 2050] ] and is projected to be about 170 million by 2050. [ [ Ethiopia: Struggling to end food aid dependency] ] FAO estimated on January 6, 2006, that more than 11 million people in the Horn of Africa countries may be affected by an impending widespread famine, largely attributed to a severe drought, and exacerbated by military conflicts in the region. [ Millions of people are on the brink of starvation in the Horn of Africa] , Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) news release, 6 January 2006] These conditions of drought, together with other factors including high cereal prices, overpopulation in the region, and conflict, lead to 2006 Horn of Africa food crisis.

In a 2005 interview with the BBC, Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi said, "There is a lot of fertile land in the low lands of Ethiopia which is not being utilised." [ [ BBC NEWS | Have Your Say | You asked Ethiopia's PM Meles Zenawi ] ] A 2005 article in The Economist states, "The state owns all the land in Ethiopia... One of two newly formed opposition groups, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), offered a liberal alternative: campaigning, among other things, for land to be privatised." [ [ news ] ]


Massive deforestation with resulting desertification, water resource degradation and soil loss has affected approximately ninety percent of Madagascar's previously biologically productive lands. Most of this loss has occurred since independence from the French, and is the result of local people trying merely to subsist. The country is currently unable to provide adequate food, fresh water and sanitation for its population.

Madagascar does not have secure property rights. [ [ Index of Economic Freedom ] ]

Madagascar's long isolation from the neighboring continents (it is the oldest island in the world, isolated for at least 65 million years) has resulted in a unique mix of plants and Malagasy fauna, [ [ Madagascar] ] many found nowhere else in the world; some ecologists refer to Madagascar as the "eighth continent". Unfortunately, Madagascar has lost 95% of its rainforests during the last 50 years. [cite book | title = The Eighth Continent: Life, Death, and Discovery in the Lost World of Madagascar | author = Peter Tyson | isbn = 0380975777 ]

Its environmental problems are caused especially by rapid population growth. Extensive deforestation has taken place in parts of the country. Slash-and-burn activity, locally called "tavy", has occurred in the eastern and western dry forests as well as the on the central high plateau, reducing certain forest habitat and applying pressure to some endangered species. Slash-and-burn is a method sometimes used by shifting cultivators to create short-term yields from marginal soils. When practiced repeatedly, or without intervening fallow periods, the nutrient-poor soils may be exhausted or eroded to an unproductive state. The resulting increased surface runoff from burned lands has caused significant erosion and resulting high sedimentation to western rivers. [ [ Impact of Population and Poverty on Rainforests] ] [ [ Deforestation in Madagascar] ]

In addition, Madagascar's current population of 20 million is projected to increase to 46 million by 2050 and 62 million by 2100. []


Malawi cannot feed its present population of 13 million, and its population is expected to increase to 32 million in 2050, leaving the country almost certainly permanently dependent on international food aid to keep millions of its people alive. [ [ UN predicts huge migration to rich countries - Telegraph ] ]


In Niger, people cutting down trees for firewood created problems of deforestation and desertification. But then the country changed its economic policy, and started to allow private ownership of trees. Once the trees were treated as private property, people had an incentive to take care of them. People could thence make more money by caring for the trees and selling the fruit, instead of cutting the trees down for firewood. As a result, the deforestation was reversed, and the forest grew bigger. This happened, despite the fact that the human population was growing. By adopting property rights, the environment benefited, and the people became wealthier and better fed, even while the human population was growing. [ [ Trees and crops reclaim desert in Niger - International Herald Tribune ] ]

The 2005-06 Niger food crisis was caused by an early end to the 2004 rains, desert locust damage to some pasture lands, high food prices, and chronic poverty. The food shortage impacts some 3.3 million people — including 800,000 children under age five — in some 3,815 villages. In January 16, 2006, the UN directed an appeal for US$ 240 million of food aid for West Africa to feed at least 10 million people affected by the food crisis, with Niger being the worst-affected country. [ [ Niger food crisis timeline] ] [ [ Niger] ]

In 1950, Niger had a population of just 2.5 million. Due to its high fertility (7.2 children per woman), Niger has a population of 13 million in 2008. Its population is projected to further increase to 53 million by 2050, 99 million by 2100, and 103 million by 2120. []


Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. The 2006 census gave a population of 140 million and Nigeria's population is projected to increase twofold to 289 million by 2050. [ [ UN predicts huge migration to rich countries] ] According to the United Nations, Nigeria has been undergoing explosive population growth and one of the highest growth and fertility rates in the world. By UN projections, Nigeria will be one of the countries in the world that will account for most of the world's total population increase by 2050. [ [ UN Press Release: World Population Increase] ] Health, health care, and general living conditions in Nigeria are poor. Life expectancy is 47 years (average male/female) and just over half the population has access to potable water and appropriate sanitation. Nigeria, like many developing countries, suffers from a polio crisis as well as periodic outbreaks of cholera, malaria, and sleeping sickness. [cite news | url= |title=Nigerian state thwarts polio push|publisher=BBC News |date=March 22, 2004 |accessdate=2006-09-07] Between 1990 and 2005, the Nigeria lost a staggering 79% of its old-growth forests. [ [ Nigeria: Environmental Profile] ]

Nigeria is losing convert|1355|sqmi|km2 of rangeland and cropland to desertification each year. About 35 million people in northern Nigeria are currently suffering from the effects of desertification. While Nigeria’s human population was growing from 33 million in 1950 to 140 million in 2006, a fourfold expansion, its livestock population grew from 6 million to 66 million, an 11-fold increase. With the food needs of its people and land and the forage needs of cattle, sheep and goats exceeding the carrying capacity of its grasslands, the country is slowly turning to desert [ [ Protecting Cropland - Advancing Deserts] ] and Nigeria’s fast-growing population is being squeezed into an ever-smaller area. [ [ Desertification Threatens Economy, Food Security] ]


The combination of decades of drought, desertification, and fast population growth exacerbate the Darfur genocide, because the Arab janjaweed and nomads seek to exterminate non-Arabs in the south as Arab nomads search for water have to take their livestock further south, to land mainly occupied by non-Arab farming communities. [ [ Looking to water to find peace in Darfur] ]

In addition, Sudan's current population of 39 million is projected to increase nearly twofold to 73 million by 2050. []


Uganda had a population of approximately 5 million in 1950 and 7 million at independence in 1962. In 45 years, the population of Uganda has grown to 30 million. Uganda's population is projected to increase to 103 million by 2050 and 167 million by 2100, making Uganda the 12th most populated country in the world, with more people than Russia, Japan, Mexico, or Egypt. [] Its population will have increased 21-fold in 100 years and 34-fold in 150 years. Uganda currently has one of the fastest-growing, most fertile, and youngest populations in the world, with a population growth rate of 3.6% per year, a fertility rate of 6.8 children per woman, and a median age of 15 in 2007 according to the CIA World Factbook.

Uganda had 120 people per square km in 2005, putting it only 83rd on the List of countries by population density. This was well above the world average of 45, or the African average of 28, but not high compared to some first world countries, being only slightly over the European Union average of 118. However, it seems clear that Uganda's problems are aggravated by underdevelopment.

It should be noted that if developing countries were to consume resources and produce pollution at the current U.S. per-capita level, it would require several planet Earths just to sustain their economies. [ [ State of the World 2006: China and India Hold World in Balance] ] [ [ Human consumption straining earth's resources] ]


During the late 20th century, farmers in Zimbabwe were growing enough food to feed the country. The country also grew enough extra food for export that it was known as "the breadbasket of southern Africa." [ [ BBC NEWS | World | Africa | Zimbabwe opposition leader held ] ] Since that time period, President Robert Mugabe seized the farmland and exiled white and foreign farmers from the country [ [ BBC NEWS | Africa | Mugabe orders white farmers to leave ] ] labelling white farmers as "enemies of the state." [ [ - Zimbabwe President Mugabe labels white farmers 'enemies' - April 18, 2000 ] ] This later resulted in severe famine. However, the population growth of Zimbabwe is lower than many other African nations [] . Nonetheless, Zimbabwe's current population of 13 million is projected to increase by 50% to 19 million by 2050. []


Europe is the world's second-smallest continent in terms of area, covering about 10,180,000 square kilometres (3,930,000 sq mi) or 2.0% of the Earth's surface. The only continent smaller than Europe is Australia. It is the third most populous continent (after Asia and Africa) with a population of 728,000,000 or about 11% of the world's population. Of the continents, Europe ranks first in population density. [ [ Europe] ] A century ago Europe had nearly a quarter of the world's population. The population of Europe has grown in the past century, but in other areas of the world (in particular Africa and Asia) the population has grown far more quickly. [ UNPP, 2004 Revision World Population Prospects: The 2004 Revision Population Database] . United Nations Population Division, 2005. Last accessed October 25, 2006.]

The average number of children per female of child bearing age is 1.52. In 2005 the EU had an overall net gain from immigration of 1.8 million people, despite having one of the highest population densities in the world. This accounted for almost 85% of Europe's total population growth. [ [ Europe: Population and Migration in 2005] ]


The Netherlands is the 23rd most densely populated country in the world, with 395 inhabitants per square kilometre [ [ Netherlands-Population Density] ] (1,023 sq mi)—or 484 people per square kilometre (1,254/sq mi) if only the land area is counted, since 18.4% is water.

Only Bangladesh and South Korea are larger and more densely populated (hence have a larger population), and only Taiwan is smaller and has a larger population (hence a larger population density). There are 21 more countries (12 independent ones and 9 dependent territories) with a larger population density, but they all have a smaller population (hence a smaller area). If the water area is not counted then Taiwan is larger, and there are 16 more countries (9 independent ones and 7 dependent territories) with a larger population density.

As a result of these demographic characteristics the Netherlands has had to plan its land use strictly. Since 1946 the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment has been occupied with the national coordination of land use. Because of its high population density the Netherlands has also reclaimed land from the sea by poldering. Between 1927 and 1968 an entire province, Flevoland was created.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is one of the most densely-populated countries in Europe, with 383 people per square kilometre (992/sq mi), [ URL accessed 19 November 2006] making it second only to the Netherlands (see below). With 50,431,700 inhabitants, or 84% of the UK's total, [ [ Population Estimates] National Statistics Online, August 24, 2006. URL accessed September 12, 2006] England is the most populous nation in the United Kingdom. In 2006, an estimated 491,000 migrants [ [ Half a million migrants pour into Britain in a year] ] arrived to live in the UK for at least a year, while 400,000 people emigrated from the UK for a year or more. [ [ Emigration soars as Britons desert the UK] ] Most new arrivals were heading for London and the South East. [ [ National Statistics Online - Net immigration 191,000] ] The latest population projections for the country indicate that in 2031, the population of Britain would be 71 million, in 2050 it would reach 90 million and by 2081 the population could be 110 million. [ [ BBC NEWS | UK | UK population may double by 2081 ] ]


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