How Many Black People are in the World 2023
When seeking to identify the number of black people in the world, it is essential for one to thoughtfully consider the complicated definition of the term "black".
If you believe that "black" is as simply defined as a person of African descent, then the total number of black people in the world is about 7.8 billion (2020). Every person alive now, and every person who has ever lived is of African ancestry. The only question is the number of generations it's been since a person's ancestors left. So, although controversial, that might be about the most objective answer one could hope to get. However, this is not the definition that is most commonly used, and therefore, not the definition that we will be operating under for the sake of this exploration. That being said, it is of the utmost importance to remember that race is, ultimately, a construct and that the prescribed title of every race is largely synonymous with "different than me".
Culture is real, heritage is real, ethnicity is real, but race, in many ways, is an aspect of divisiveness, and one that is often ascribed to a person from without, not within. Speaking from personal experience, when declaring their race, biracial people (half-black, half-white for example) often feel compelled to select the option that is more visible, more prescribable. Unremarkably, this often correlates with the option that is in the minority. Therefore, even though I am "half-white", I always select the Black/African-American option when stating my race on official documents or surveys; because the people that I meet would view me as such. Does this mean that I should be counted for both black and white population statistics? This example illustrates the complexity and uncertainty of this question and serves as a disclaimer to any potential answer.
With all hopes of an objective answer out the window and all divisive notions behind us, we can begin to consider the figures based on the more conventionally held definitions of a black person.
Generally, the term black is used to classify those of recent Sub-Saharan African descent or those with ancestors indigenous to Oceania or Australia. Currently, Africa is the second most populous continent in the world with around 1.22 billion residents while Oceania and Australia have a combined 43 million residents.
Without any shadow of a doubt, Africa is the continent with the most black people. However, when breaking down demographics, one would quickly realize that the continent's racial dispersion is far from even. While it's nearly impossible to get an accurate estimate, likely around 80% of the African population would adhere to our definition of black, the vast majority of which live in countries south of the Sahara desert.
Northern Africa is composed primarily of non-black ethnicities including the Berbers, Arabs, and Bedouins. In fact, people of these ethnicities are often considered "white" due to their relatively light skin. If we take the varying non-black ethnicities of Northern Africa into consideration, we can estimate that approximately 980 million black people live on the African continent.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh most populous country in the world with over 211 million residents (2020). Nigeria is projected to be the world's third most populous country by 2050, overtaking even Indonesia and the United States. However, even the massive population numbers do not paint the full picture of worldwide Nigerian influence.
Due to a series of immigration events known as the Nigerian diaspora, it is estimated that as many as one in seven of the world's black people are of Nigerian descent. Although the term "Nigerian" does not serve to adequately represent the 250 ethnic groups present in Nigeria. The most abundant of which are the Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo ethnic groups, which have footholds all over the world.
Colonialism and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade led to the involuntary displacement of millions of Nigerians and other West Africans. Although subsequent voluntary migrations have continued to affect black populations in the Americas especially since the mid-19th century. Close to 34 million black people live in the Caribbean alone, making up over 75% of the region's population. Haiti is one of the world's blackest countries. Nearly 10 million of Haiti's 11.3 million residents are black, accounting for about 90% of the population. Jamaica is another Caribbean nation with a high black population. Roughly 2.5 million of the 2.9 million Jamaicans are black.
Depending on your definition of black, the United States has the most black residents of any country not on the African continent. The United States is home to over 46 million black people, 58% of which live in the South. To the north, Canada is home to about 1,200,000 black people.
Europe and Asia have surprisingly few black people considering their proximity to Africa. While major European nations like the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Spain all report black populations over 1 million, Central and Eastern Europe have a comparably low number of black residents. In Asia, Russia has the highest black population, albeit just 120,000. China, the world's most populous country (1.4 billion) is home to very few black people.
Countries off of the African continent with the most black people:
- United States (46,350,000)
- Brazil (15,000,000)
- Haiti (9,925,000)
- Colombia (4,944,000)
- France (4,500,000) including French territories
- Venezuela (3,743,000)
- Jamaica (2,510,000)
- United Kingdom (1,904,000)
- Mexico (1,386,000)
- Canada (1,200,000)
- Dominican Republic (1,138,000)
- Cuba (1,127,000)
- Ecuador (1,120,000)
- Italy (1,159,000)
- Spain (1,191,000)
In total, there are around 1.2 billion black people in the world adhering strictly to those of recent Sub-Saharan descent. However, the term black is essentially nonsense, the number climbs much much higher even if we evaluate based on an objective metric like the measuring of melanin. For example, the Indian subcontinent is home to millions of dark-skinned people.
In South Africa, 79% of people are black.