How the world went from 170 million people to 7.3 billion, in one map

By German Lopez | 30 January 2016
Vox

Humanity has conquered the world. It’s hard to appreciate what that means, but the video below, by WorldPopulationHistory.org, shows just how incredible the growth and expansion of humanity has been over the past 2,000 years.

Here are some of the notable moments in the video:

  • The map begins at 1:18, showing human population a little more than 2,000 years ago, with each yellow dot representing 1 million people in an area. At this point, there are 170 million people on Earth.
  • At 3:20, the Mongol invasion of China begins in the early 13th century, killing huge segments of the population. The Mongol conquests are still considered one of the deadliest wars in history, killing tens of millions of people at a time when the world population was much smaller — around 360 million.
  • At 3:30, in the 14th century, the Black Death spreads around the world, killing more than 20 million people in Europe — nearly one-third of the continent’s population — and 75 million around the world, when the global population was about 380 million.
  • At 4:20, the world population explodes thanks to the Industrial Revolution and modern medicine. From 1800 to 2015, the global population grew from about 910 million to more than 7.3 billion.
  • After 4:40, you can begin to see how the world population will expand in the future — to nearly 9.6 billion.

The video itself can get a little dry at points, but what’s really impressive is the fully interactive map at WorldPopulationHistory.org. There, you can zoom in, go through different years, and look at significant milestones. Check it out here.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Over population as an issue has died down – but it does lay at the root of environmental issues. If we don't do something about it the eco system will. An it's going to be non too kind in it's methods.

    • The call for population control died down when it was realised it was too late to take matters into our own hands. It’s all up to nature now, and the result is not going to be pretty.

    • The issue has hardly died down, the population is continuing to expand. Did you mean that it's less in the spotlight?

      Several countries have been forcibly limiting population growth through forced contraception, sterilisation and abortion for decades now. No, it's not pretty. It's a major violation of human rights and causes a number of deaths, especially when surgical procedures such as sterilisation are carried out in non-sterile conditions. What we need is universally accessible birth control, which still doesn't exist in far too many countries. Look at the US, for instance, and they consider themselves to be a developed country.

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