Asia is the largest and most populous of earth's continents and its located in both the northern and eastern hemispheres. Asia comprises a full 30% of the world's land area with 60% of the world's current population. It also has the highest growth rate today, and its population almost quadrupled during the 20th century. The estimated population for Asia in 2016 is 4.4 billion.
Asia comprises the eastern 4/5 of Eurasia, bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the east, the Indian Ocean on the south and the Arctic Ocean on the north. There are a total of 48 countries in Asia. In 2016, the population of Asia is estimated at 4,434,846,235. Russia is excluded from Asia's population, although there are about 40 million Russians who live in Asia, or east of the Ural Mountains.
Asia has the two most populous countries in its borders: China and India. China is currently the most populous country on earth with an estimated population in 2016 of 1,377,124,512. It accounts for 31.69% of Asia's total population and over 18% of the world's population. India is not too far behind with an estimated population of 1,285,800,000, accounting for 29.36% of the continent's population amd 17.5% of the world's population. It's estimated that India's population will surpass China's by 2022, when each country will have a population of about 1.45 billion people.
- China, 1.37 billion
- India, 1.299 billion
- Indonesia, 255.46 million
- Pakistan, 191.78 million
- Bangladesh, 158.76 million
- Japan, 126.89 million
- The Philippines, 102.96 million
- Vietnam, 91.81 million
- Iran, 78.77 million
- Turkey, 78.21 million
Least Populous Countries
The least populous country in Asia is the Maldives, with an estimated population of 345,000. The Maldives is also one of the smallest countries on earth with just 298 square kilometers (115 square miles) of area, 99% of which is water. This tiny country has a population density of 1,065 people per square kilometer (2,758/square mile), which makes it the 12th most densely populated country on earth.
Following behind the Maldives is Brunei, the 50th least populous country in Asia with an estimated 2016 population of 421,000. Located in Southeast Asia, Brunei is surrounded by Sarawak, Malaysia, and it's divided into two parts. It's the only sovereign state fully on the island of Borneo, and one of the richest countries due to its natural gas and petroleum fields with a public debt that remains below 3%.
The ten least populous countries in Asia include:
- Maldives, 345,000
- Brunei, 421,000
- Macau, 641,000
- Bhutan, 760,000
- Timor-Leste, 1.24 million
- Bahrain, 1.78 million
- Qatar, 2.11 million
- Armenia, 3 million
- Mongolia, 3.02 million
- Georgia, 3.73 million
Comparison to Other Continents
Asia is the most populous continent, which the second being Africa. Africa is the second largest and most populous continent with an estimated population in 2016 of 1.21 billion people. Africa has 30.2 million square kilometers (11.7 million square feet) of land, including islands, and its population accounts for 15% of the world's population.
Following Africa is Europe, with a population in 2016 of 738 million, or 11% of the world's total population. Europe accounts for only 2% of the earth's surface and 6.8% of its land area, and it's the second-smallest continent. Russia takes up 40% of the continent's area, while Asia's landmass is much greater with a higher population density. Europe has approximately 134 people per square mile, compared to 203 per square mile in Asia.
Asia's Population Growth
Asia's growth rate is very high, quadrupling in the last century. Given its wealth of resources and ecological and biological variety, it's in the perfect position to support this growth as well. Unfortunately, Asia's rapid growth and fast economic development is threatening its limited resources through quick expansion, destruction of natural habits and urbanization.
It's predicted that Asia's population will continue to grow for quite some time, which will continue to strain its resources. Based on current estimates, it's projected that national populations will grow in every country of Asia with the exception of Japan and Kazakhstan through 2050. Some countries, including Afghanistan, Nepal and Pakistan, will double in population during this time while India, Vietnam, Malaysia and other countries will see especially high growth rates.
Unfortunately, it's currently projected that the countries which will grow the fastest are the ones with the lowest income in the world, and these countries will be the least capable of handling the extra stress on resources.