China Population 2018

1,417,095,584

China's 2018 population is 1.42 billion, based on United Nations projections. China, officially the People's Republic of China, is the largest country in the world today. In January 2013, the Chinese Government released data confirming that the population of China was an impressive 1,354,040,000, although this does not include Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. As of September 2013, that number had grown even further to 1,360,720,000.

India, the next largest country, has 120 million fewer people, for a population of 1.28 billion. The United States, the third largest country in the world, has a much smaller population of 323 million. Estimates show that India will pass China as the most populous nation in the world in the next couple decades.

Unfortunately, there is some confusion around the question of how many people live in China. That's because it is a country of several different parts, not all of which are governed by Beijing.

To understand China's population and demographics, it helps to understand its government a bit. The People's Republic of China (PRC) is governed by the Communist Party with its seat of government in Beijing, which exercises jurisdiction over 5 autonomous regions, 22 provinces, 4 direct-controlled municipalities and 2 primarily self-governing special administrative regions (Macau and Hong Kong). The PRC also claims Taiwan, which is controlled by a separate political entity called the Republic of China (ROC) as its 23rd province. This makes population figures a bit confusing.

The figure quoted at the top of this article, for example, doesn’t include the island of Taiwan, which the PRC claims as a part of China. Nor does it include the former British and Portugese colonies of Hong Kong and Macau, which are governed as special administrative regions.

China Population Density

As a whole, China has an estimated population density of 145 people per square kilometer, or 375 people per square mile. This ranks 81st, despite the country itself being one of the largest in terms of size and the largest in terms of population.

The density figures change dramatically when you look at the largest urban areas, however. Shanghai, the largest city in the country and the world, has a population density of 3,800 people per square kilometer, or 9,900 people per square mile.

China's Largest Cities

A few of China's cities make the list of the top 30 most densely populated cities in the world, although most on the list are in India, the Philippines, France and other countries. Hong Kong is the 8th most densely populated city in the world, with 68,400 people per square mile. Macau follows behind as the 9th most densely populated, with a density of 65,400 people per square mile. Macau tops the list of sovereign states and dependent territories in terms of population density. Despite this tightly packed area, it still has the second highest life expectancy in the world and remains one of the few areas in Asia to receive a "very high Human Development Index" ranking.

2010 Census of China

In the year 2010, China took up its most recent official census efforts. The country hired approximately ten million workers to help manage the enormous task of discovering the statistics of over one billion residents. The growth from 2000 to 2010 was roughly 5.8% over the decade.

China Quality of Life and Demographics

China is classified as an upper middle-income country by the World Bank, and its rapid growth over the decades has pulled hundreds of millions of its citizens out of poverty. About 10% of the population in the country lives on $1 USD a day, compared to 64% just 35 years ago.

Although 56 different ethnic groups are officially recognized in China, 91.51% of Chinese are Han Chinese. Only one other group – Zhuang – has a larger than 1% share of the population. Other ethnic groups are growing at a higher rate than Han Chinese, but because of the massive dominance of Han Chinese, this is not expected to dramatically alter China’s ethnic composition.

China is officially an atheist state, and doesn’t survey its people on their religion. Because of this, no accurate figures regarding religious demographics are available. China's constitution guarantees freedom of religion, although any religious organization without official approval faces state persecution. A survey taken in China showed that 85% of Chinese residents have some religious beliefs, while just 15% consider themselves to be atheists.

Chinese culture and civilization has been influenced by many religious movements over the past 1,000 years, and Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism are considered the country's "Three Teachings" based on their cultural and historical impact. China has also seen an interesting syncing of these three religions in the form of a folk religion that is common throughout the country.

About 3% of the population is Islamic, with a Christian population estimated to be about 5%. According to some sources, Christianity could represent as much as 20% of China's population by 2025. Buddhism is practiced by 10 to 18% of Chinese residents, while over 30% practice local folk religions.

China's Population History

China has had a rocky population history, littered with war, famine, and natural disasters. Six of the twelve most deadly wars across the globe took place in China, killing an estimated total of over 123 million people. The most deadly was the Three Kingdoms period (220AD - 280AD), where an estimated 40 million people died from war, famine, and disease. In 1850, a man named Hong Xiuquan led a rebellion to try to create the "Heavenly Kingdom of Taiping." By proclaiming himself to be the younger brother of Jesus, he grew his following to between 10,000 and 30,000 followers, and by late 1850 they controlled over a third of China. During the 15 years of the rebellion, an estimated 20-30 million people died, primarily due to plague and famine.

China's Growth Problems

The size of China's population has long been a hot political issue in China. After rapid population growth in the middle of the 20th century, the Chinese government sought to limit population growth by introducting the famous "one child policy."

The scheme, which rewarded couples that agreed to have just one child with cash bonuses and better access to housing, proved so successful that the birth rate of 1.4 children per woman fell below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman. As a result, experts are now concerned that China’s low birth rate, combined with its aging population, will damage it’s future economic development.

The one child policy was met with a great deal of resistance, particularly in rural areas. Families who breach this policy tend to lie on census polls, so the true population of China may be a bit skewed. This means that Chinese population statistics have become less reliable since the policy began in the 1970s. The policy was ended by the Chinese government in 2016.

Much of China’s economic growth has been attributed to its abundant and cheap workforce, combined with its low social costs. However, with the number of young Chinese falling and the number of elderly Chinese increasing, it is not certain whether China’s economy can continue to grow at the same rapid rate.

China also has an abnormal ratio of male to female births. Whereas in most countries more girls are born than boys, in China the reverse is true. Many suspect that this is because of a preference for boys among Chinese families.

Components of Population Change

One birth every 2 seconds
One death every 3 seconds
One net migrant every 2 minutes
Net gain of one person every 6 seconds

China Population in 2018Source: By Baycrest [CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], from Wikimedia Commons

Population Data via United Nations WPP (2015 Revision, Medium Variant)

China Population Growth

According to current projections, China's population will finally peak in 2028 with a shrinking labor force and an over-65 population of 240 million. Only Japan has aged faster than China.

China has another very serious demographic problem due to sex-selective abortion and its one-child policy, resulting in a ratio of 120 boys for every 100 girls. It's estimated that the percentage of men in their late 30's who have never married will quintuple by 2030, and this large number of unmarried young men will have a detrimental impact on population growth.

By 2028, both India and China are estimated to have 1.4 billion residents each, but India will start to take 1st place with a growth continuing until 2050, while China's population is expected to decline after 2030.

About China

Official NamePeople's Republic of China
Languages SpokenMandarin
Is LandlockedNo
Latitude/Longitude35105
Currencies UsedChina Yuan Renminbi
DemonymChinese

China Population Density

China Top 20 Cities by Population

Name Population
Shanghai22,315,474
Beijing11,716,620
Tianjin11,090,314
Guangzhou11,071,424
Shenzhen10,358,381
Wuhan9,785,388
Dongguan8,000,000
Chongqing7,457,600
Chengdu7,415,590
Nanjing7,165,292
Nanchong7,150,000
Xi'an6,501,190
Shenyang6,255,921
Hangzhou6,241,971
Harbin5,878,939
Tai'an5,499,000
Suzhou5,345,961
Shantou5,329,024
Jinan4,335,989
Zhengzhou4,253,913

China Population Clock

The population of China (as of 11/13/2018)?1,417,095,584
Last UN Estimate (July 1, 2018)1,415,045,928
Births Per Day44,759
Deaths Per Day28,798
Net Migrations Per Day -890
Net Change Per Day 15,071
Population Change Since January 1st4,777,507

China Population Estimator

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Estimate as of November 13th 2018 is: 1,416,901,196

China Population by Year (Historical)

Year Population % Male % Female Density (km²) Population Rank Growth Rate
20181,415,045,92851.53%48.47%145.7810.39%
20171,409,517,39751.53%48.47%145.2110.43%
20161,403,500,36551.53%48.47%144.5910.46%
20151,397,028,55351.52%48.48%143.9210.54%
20101,359,755,10251.47%48.53%140.0810.57%
20051,321,623,49051.42%48.58%136.1510.59%
20001,283,198,97051.36%48.64%132.1910.69%
19951,239,940,00451.34%48.66%127.7411.13%
19901,172,445,20051.31%48.69%120.7811.83%
19851,070,863,38951.31%48.69%110.3211.50%
1980993,877,31051.32%48.68%102.3911.54%
1975920,945,08351.31%48.69%94.8712.23%
1970824,788,45751.33%48.67%84.9712.68%
1965722,562,18351.43%48.57%74.4411.90%
1960657,686,14351.54%48.46%67.7511.49%
1955610,834,39651.73%48.27%62.9311.96%
1950554,419,27551.90%48.10%57.1210.00%

China Population by Year (Projections)

Year Population % Male % Female Density (km²) Population Rank Growth Rate
20201,424,548,26651.53%48.47%146.7610.00%
20251,438,835,69751.51%48.49%148.2320.20%
20301,441,181,81351.48%48.52%148.4720.03%
20351,433,508,88851.44%48.56%147.682-0.11%
20401,417,472,81451.42%48.58%146.032-0.22%
20451,394,361,02551.42%48.58%143.652-0.33%
20501,364,456,72351.45%48.55%140.562-0.43%
20551,328,500,91251.52%48.48%136.862-0.53%
20601,288,706,55751.62%48.38%132.762-0.61%
20651,248,117,94451.74%48.26%128.582-0.64%
20701,208,908,82751.85%48.15%124.542-0.64%
20751,171,509,61551.94%48.06%120.692-0.63%
20801,135,754,21751.99%48.01%117.002-0.62%
20851,102,475,45052.00%48.00%113.582-0.59%
20901,072,518,59651.98%48.02%110.492-0.55%
20951,045,800,90251.90%48.10%107.742-0.50%
Data Sources
  1. China Population Information and Research Center
  2. National Bureau of Statistics of China
  3. World Population Prospects (2017 Revision) - United Nations population estimates and projections.

    Total population: Estimated to be consistent with the 1956 census, with official population estimates from 1970 through 2010, and with estimates of the subsequent trends in fertility, mortality and international migration.

  4. GeoNames Gazetteer