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1939 Population

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Population by Country in 1939

Saying that 1939 was a year full of change and historical significance is a real understatement. With World War II getting ready to break out the following year, the whole world and all its people were definitely in the process of transitioning from one phase to the next.

In 1939, the world had approximately 2 billion people worldwide. Between 60 million and 78 million people would go on to die in World War II, which was about 3 percent of the total population. Therefore, analyzing world population by country in 1939 can help provide a helpful overview of how the world looked before one of the most culturally traumatic events in human history.

Countries with the Highest Populations in 1939

In 1939, just before World War II, the following were the world’s most populous countries.

China

In 1939, the most populous country by far at the time was China, and it remains so as of 2023. Just prior to WWII, China’s population was about 513 million people strong and accounted for a relatively large slice of the world’s people at the time.

India

Just as it does in 2023, India had the world’s second-largest population in 1939 with around 389 million people.

United States

In 1939, the United States had a population of approximately 131 million people, making it the third most populous country that year. Like India and China, the United States has also maintained this position as of 2023.

Quite a few countries across Europe were also fairly populous throughout 1939. These include but aren’t necessarily limited to France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Factors Contributing to the 1939 World Population

As is the case in any other year, there were various internal and external factors influencing the world population from country to country in 1939. The following are a couple of key examples to consider.

Sociopolitical Factors in Europe

Politics and social climate always affect the population to at least some degree. In 1939, this was especially the case across Europe. While it’s true that many parts of Europe were still thriving that year, populations in Eastern Europe actually shrank due to political unrest and other localized social issues.

Colonial Rule and Its Effects

Countries and regions under colonial rule in 1939 (particularly in Africa and Asia) experienced related obstacles, such as limited access to healthcare services, ideal sanitation, and other resources. This hindered normal population growth in many of those areas.

Other influences – such as migration, natural disasters, industrialization, and access to education also influenced populations in various countries throughout 1939.

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Country
1939 Population
Additional Details
India377.8M
China267.6M
United States133.1M
Russia108.4M
Japan71.9M
Indonesia69.4M
Germany69.3M
United Kingdom47.8M
Italy43.4M
France42M
Brazil40.3M
Poland34.8M
Ukraine32.4M
Spain25.6M
Cambodia24.7M
Formerly part of the French Indochina
Laos24.7M
Formerly part of the French Indochina
South Korea24.3M
Formerly as one Korea in the Japanese Empire
North Korea24.3M
Formerly as one Korea in the Japanese Empire
Romania19.9M
Nigeria19.8M
Mexico19.3M
Turkey17.4M
Egypt16.5M
Myanmar16.1M
Philippines16M
Serbia15.5M
Formerly part of Yugoslavia
Croatia15.5M
Formerly part of Yugoslavia
Bosnia and Herzegovina15.5M
Formerly part of Yugoslavia
Slovenia15.5M
Formerly part of Yugoslavia
North Macedonia15.5M
Formerly part of Yugoslavia
Montenegro15.5M
Formerly part of Yugoslavia
Thailand15M
Iran14.3M
Formerly known as Persia
Argentina13.9M
Canada11.3M
DR Congo10.3M
Formerly known as the Belgian Congo
South Africa10.2M
Formerly known as the Union of South Africa
Hungary9.1M
Colombia8.9M
Netherlands8.7M
Belgium8.4M
Portugal7.6M
Greece7.2M
Australia7M
Austria6.7M
Taiwan6.6M
Formerly known as Formosa in the Japanese Empire
Peru6.6M
Bulgaria6.5M
Sudan6.3M
South Sudan6.3M
Formerly part of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan
Sweden6.3M
Uzbekistan6.3M
Nepal6.1M
Kazakhstan6.1M
Belarus5.6M
Formerly known as the Byelorussian SSR
Tanzania5.4M
Formerly known as Tanganyika
Mozambique5.1M
Chile4.9M
Kenya4.5M
Cuba4.2M
Switzerland4.2M
Madagascar3.9M
Rwanda3.8M
Denmark3.8M
Uganda3.7M
Angola3.7M
Ghana3.7M
Formerly known as the Gold Coast
Finland3.7M
Iraq3.7M
Venezuela3.6M
Georgia3.5M
Azerbaijan3.2M
Ireland3M
Norway2.9M
Yemen2.8M
Haiti2.7M
Saudi Arabia2.7M
Bolivia2.7M
Slovakia2.7M
Lithuania2.6M
Syria2.5M
Ecuador2.4M
Republic of the Congo2.4M
Cameroon2.4M
Guatemala2.1M
Guinea2.1M
Chad2M
Latvia2M
Sierra Leone2M
Uruguay2M
Niger1.8M
Malawi1.7M
New Zealand1.7M
Dominican Republic1.6M
Palestine1.5M
El Salvador1.5M
Kyrgyzstan1.5M
Tajikistan1.5M
Zimbabwe1.4M
Zambia1.4M
Papua New Guinea1.3M
Armenia1.3M
Hong Kong1.3M
Turkmenistan1.3M
Jamaica1.2M
Lebanon1.2M
Estonia1.1M
Honduras1.1M
Albania1.1M
Togo1M
Jordan991K
Paraguay931.8K
Libya893.8K
Mongolia819K
Nicaragua806K
Liberia780K
Morocco735.8K
Costa Rica623.4K
Lesotho622K
Panama605K
Timor Leste480K
Trinidad and Tobago476K
Bhutan470K
Malaysia460K
Mauritius422K
Guinea Bissau420K
Formerly known as the Portuguese Guinea
Cyprus393K
Macau374.7K
Somalia350K
Luxembourg295K
Malta269K
Fiji210.5K
Gambia205K
Cape Verde181.3K
Barbados177K
Guyana173.1K
Eswatini158K
Comoros137K
Iceland118.9K
United Arab Emirates110K
Solomon Islands95K
Grenada89K
Maldives87K
Bahamas67K
Sao Tome and Principe61K
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines58K
French Polynesia51.2K
Dominica50.6K
Kuwait50K
Brunei38K
Antigua and Barbuda34.1K
Seychelles31.5K
Bermuda30.5K
Aruba29.2K
Faroe Islands26.9K
French Guiana24K
Monaco24K
Guam22.8K
Gibraltar19K
Greenland18.4K
San Marino14.5K
Montserrat13.7K
Liechtenstein13K
Andorra6K
Niue4K
Nauru3.4K
Falkland Islands2.4K
Tokelau1.3K
Vatican City1K
showing: 169 rows

Which country had the highest population in 1939?

Just prior to the outbreak of World War II, China had 513 million people living there. This placed it as the nation with the world's largest population.

Frequently Asked Questions