As we approach the end of 2020, there are almost 8 billion people on planet earth.
Trying to think in terms of billions of people is perhaps a little overwhelming, and maybe not that useful in helping us understand global differences and global inequalities.
A billion, (one thousand million) is so large a number that it’s maybe too abstract to help us understand the characteristics of our global population, it’s kind of easy to glaze over when talking and thinking in billions.
For example, if you look at the numbers of people on each continent, the figures are as follows:
- 4.8 billion from Asia
- 1.28 billion would be from Africa
- 800 million would be from Europe
- 720 million would be from Latin America & the Caribbean
- 400 million would be from North America
These numbers, presented in the billions and hundreds of millions aren’t that easy to comprehend – you kind of glaze over and switch off, it’s just because the numbers are so large we can’t relate to them that easily!
An easier way to compare these figures is to look at it in percentage terms, which is much easier for the human brain to understand:
Percentage of people on each continent:
- 60% in Asia
- 16% in Africa
- 10% in Europe
- 9% from Latin America & the Caribbean
- 5% from North America
With the percentages, we lose a bit of accuracy by rounding up or down, but for getting an overview it’s an easier starting point than the longer ‘billions and hundreds of millions’ figures above.
An even easier way to present an overview of global population characteristics is to imagine the world as 100 people, which is exactly the same as looking at the population in percentage terms, just a bit more ‘human’ and thus easier to relate to!
If the world were 100 People…
- 60 would be from Asia
- 16 would be from Africa
- 10 would be from Europe
- 9 would be from Latin America & the Caribbean
- 5 would be from North America
100 People: A World Portrait
There are a few versions of ‘the world as 100 people’ video – in which we are taken through how many people would live where, how many people would be what religion, how many have access to clean drinking water and so on.
However, although the most recent versions are dated 2019 and 2018, they both use the data from the 2016 project above: 100 people a world portrait – which also has it’s own (not as snazzy) video and sources (neither of the two more recent snazzier videos seem to think it’s even worth crediting where they got their information from, so I’m not going to link to them from here.
The Miniature Earth (Throwback)
I first came across the concept of the world as a 100 people back in 2010, through this miniature earth video.
IMO it’s a much better version, to the tune of ‘Mad World’ – just a shame it’s now dated and so not that useful, other than to compare to the 2016 statistics!
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