Blond (or blonde) hair naturally occurs in roughly 2% of the world's population, making it more common than red hair, but far less common than black or brown hair. Blonde is also a very popular choice for those who color their hair artificially. The predominant hair color in each country varies greatly by country and region. Black and brown are easily the most common hair colors on a global scale, but blond/blonde hair is dominant in several countries in Scandinavia and Northern Europe, such as Norway and Denmark. By comparison, red hair is rare all over the world, but the highest percentage of people with red hair occurs in the United Kingdom. Blond/blonde hair is least common in Africa and East Asia, where black and brown hair are overwhelmingly dominant.
Blond vs blonde and the challenge of determining hair color percentages
The proper use and spelling of blond and blonde can be confusing. Blond/blonde is a gender-sensitive adjective. Thus, blond is the masculine/genderless/gender-flexible term and is used when the subject is non-female, or when speaking generally (for instance, when discussing the percentage of humans with blond hair). Blonde is the feminine term and is used when the subject is specifically presenting/identifying as female.
Efforts to determine the rates of blond and other hair colors can be even more confusing, thanks in large part to the fact that blonde, red, and brown lack clear boundaries and instead blend gradually into one another. This results in many in-between hair colors whose official color is up to the viewer's opinion rather than quantifiable scientific fact. For example, most dark blonds could also be light browns. Many strawberry blondes could be either blonde or red. Many auburns could be red or brown, and the line between black and dark brown can be very difficult to discern at times.
Also, blonde hair in particular tends to darken as a person ages, so an individual who was blonde at age 10 often has light or medium brown hair by the time they reach age 20. Because of the challenges generated by the gradual transition between colors, some sources combine black and brown hair into a single unified color, or do away with blonde/brown/black entirely and simply separate hair into light, dark, and (sometimes) red.
Countries with the most blond-haired residents
The people of Finland have one of the highest concentrations of blond hair in the world. In large portions of Finland, 80% of the population has blond hair (and a full 89% of the population has blue eyes). Blond hair and blue eyes are one of the rarest combinations in the world (though red hair and blue eyes is even more rare), but such a combination is commonplace in Finland. The native Sami people who live in the northern region of the country, called Lapland, are more likely to have dark hair and eyes, though this dilutes the country's overall blond population percentage only slightly. Blond hair is still notably prevalent, especially in Finland's central and southern regions.
Like its neighbor Finland, Sweden also has some of the highest rates of blond hair in the world. It is estimated that up to 78% of Sweden’s population has blond hair, including a large swath where the frequency of blond hair is higher than 80%. As in other Scandinavian countries, blond hair and blue eyes are notably more common in Sweden than in other regions of the world. Around 70% to 80% of Swedes also have blue eyes.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the percentage of blond-haired residents in Norway is nearly as high as that in neighboring Scandinavian countries Sweden and Finland. In Norway, an estimated 75% of the population has blond hair, and between 60% to 80% of the population has blue eyes. Although Norway is predominantly blond today, many native Norwegians, such as the infamous 9th-century figure Halvdan Svarte, who fathered Norway’s first king, had dark hair.
An estimated 70% of the Estonian population has blond hair and 64% of the population has blue eyes. Many Estonians actually have a blue-gray eye coloration that, like blond hair, is passed down through generations by family genes. Estonia is geographically positioned just south of Finland and east of Sweden, though it is separated from both countries by water.
The island country Iceland was originally populated by settlers from Scandinavia, particularly Norway, who brought with them their parent country's high percentage of blond hair. Nearly 70% of Icelanders have blond hair and an estimated 90% have blue eyes. Not only is the usually rare combination of blond hair and blue eyes by far the most common combination in Iceland, the even more rare pairing of red hair and green eyes is also atypically frequent.
It is estimated that up to 68% of the population in Denmark has blond hair. Denmark is one of a handful of countries, along with Sweden and Norway, from which the viking invasions (approx. 800-1100 AD) originated, which population experts believe were instrumental in spreading both blond and red hair throughout the rest of Europe.