World Population 2012
The current US Census Bureau world population 2012 estimate is that there were 6,984,895,594 people on the earth at the start of 2012.
This is an introductory article.
As well as containing the latest world population estimate, it contains information about the history of population growth, and details of the world’s largest countries and cities.
7 billion people in the world?
Although the number given above seems very precise, it is important to remember that it is just an estimate. It simply isn’t possible to be sure exactly how many people there are on the earth at any one time, and there are conflicting estimates of the global population in 2012.
Some, including the UN, believe that a population of 7 billion was reached in October 2011. Others, including the US Census Bureau and World Bank, believe that the total population of the world is just under 7 billion, and that the population will pass 7 billion during 2012, probably in March or April.
To celebrate the October milestone, National Geographic produced this video, which gives an excellent overview of what a population of 7 billion people really means for the planet we live on.
History of population growth
Throughout most of history, the world’s population has been much smaller than it is now. Before the invention of agriculture, for example, the human population was estimated to be around 15 million people at most.
The introduction of agriculture and the gradual movement of humanity into settled communities saw the global population increase gradually to around 300 million by AD 0. To give you an idea of scale, the Roman Empire, which many regard as one of the strongest empires the world has ever seen, probably contained only around 50 million people at its height – that’s less than the number of people in England today.
It wasn’t until the early 19th century that the world population reached its first big milestone – 1 billion people. Then, as the industrial revolution took hold and living standards improved, the rate of population growth increased considerably. Over the next hundred years, the population of the world doubled, reaching 2 billion in the late 1920s.
The 20th century, however, is where population growth really took off, and over the past 100 years, the planet’s population has more than trebled in size. This massive increase in human population is largely due to improvements in diet, sanitation and medicine – especially compulsory vaccination against many diseases.
How much larger can the world population get?
What happens next isn’t quite so clear.
Most people are agreed that population increases will continue, but there are arguments about the rate of increase, and even a few people who believe population decreases are likely. You can see some example trends in this graph.
The United Nations has gradually been revising its predictions downwards, and now believes that the world population in 2050 will be around 9 billion (illustrated by the yellow line on the chart). It believes that, as the world grows steadily richer and the average family size decreases, growth will steadily slow and eventually stop.
However, others believe that poverty, inequality and continued urbanisation will encourage steadily increasing growth, particularly in countries in Africa and parts of Asia, where growth is already much higher than the global average.
A few scientists even believe that populations will decrease. Some believe that gradual increases in living standards will result in similar patterns to those in Western Europe, where birth rates are declining rapidly. Others believe that the current world population is unsustainable, and predict that humanity will simply not be able to produce enough food and oil to feed itself and sustain our industrial economy.
Largest Countries in the World 2012
More than half of the world’s current population lives in just ten countries.
The largest country in the world today is, of course, China, which is one of only two countries with a population of more than a billion people. To give you an indication of scale, with 1.3 billion people, China today has four times as many people as the United States of America.
Here’s a list of the ten largest countries in the world today.
Smallest Countries in the World 2012
By contrast, the total population of the world’s smallest countries is only just under 300,000. The smallest country in the world at the moment is Vatican City, the small enclave within the Italian city of Rome that is ruled by the Pope and home to just 800 people.
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Largest Cities in the World 2012
More than a hundred million people live in the world’s ten largest cities. Here’s a list of the largest cities in the world by population, 2012:
More information about the 2012 world population
This is just a basic introduction to the world population in 2012. For more information, check out any of the links or videos in the article, or feel free to explore the rest of our site!