Where Half the World Lives

With the world’s population now around 7.5 billion, and projected to grow by another 4 billion or so within a century, one could be forgiven for imagining the world as already swelling to the brim with people.

Yet as the following map designed by Max Galka shows, much of the world is fairly empty, and will likely remain so given the pace of urbanization (wherein more people live and work in less land). 


That means roughly 3.75 billion people live in an area constituting just one percent of the world’s total landmass.

What’s more, nearly half the world’s population (46 percent) lives in the following portion of the planet:

This is unsurprising when you consider that four out of the ten most populous nations are located in the above image: China (1.4 billion), India (1.3 billion), Pakistan (197 million), and Bangladesh (162 million). (Partially visible is Indonesia, the fourth-most populous country with over 263 million people, as well as Vietnam and the Philippines, each with around 100 million.)

A similar demographic dynamic is at work in the United States; half of all Americans — around 160 million people — live in the yellow area:


The data make it vividly clear that most of the world is settling for far less living space than many of us in sparsely populated parts of the West, such as the U.S., are accustomed.

Granted, this concentration of people is due largely because most of the world is either unable to sustain a large and stable population — lacking fresh water, arable soil, a temperate climate, etc. — or would require too many resources and too much effort to make habitable.

All this goes to show the importance of making cities more efficient in their planning, access to affordable housing, waste management, public transportation, and more. The more people we can comfortably accommodate in densely populated areas, the better for our planet and our species.

What are your thoughts?




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