The most populous countries in the world

In these times of pandemic we remember the enormous number of people living on our planet. It was not always like this, but in recent centuries the world population has grown a lot and that presents great challenges.

The most populous countries in the world are China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Russia and Mexico. The challenges they face have to do with providing education, health and work for all. And it is not that easy. Is a large country a highly populated country?

Countries and populations

One might think, almost naturally, that the bigger a country is, the more people inhabit it. First error. The geographic size of the country is not related to the number of inhabitants or the population density. Thus, we have huge countries like Mongolia, Namibia or Australia with very low population density. For example, in Mongolia there is a density of only 2.08 inhabitants per square kilometer (the total population is 3.255.000 million).

The same thing happens at the continent level. Africa is huge but it is inhabited by only 1.2 billion people. In fact, if you make a list of low-density countries, you find that there are at least ten African countries with low population density. What is the cause? Well the geography. Deserts stretch here and there and make population distribution impossible. The Sahara, if necessary, makes almost all of Libya or Mauritania desolate. The same is the Namib Desert or the Kalahari, further south.

The Namib occupies almost the entire coast of Namibia and the Kalahari also occupies part of its territory and almost all of Botswana. Or, continuing with examples, North Korea and Australia have the same number of inhabitants: about 26 million, but ... Australia has a land mass 63 times larger. The same happens with Bangladesh and Russia whose populations are 145 and 163 million respectively, but the fact is that the population density in Russia is much lower.

So let's make it clear then that there is no mandatory relationship between the size of the country and the number of people that inhabit it. But here is the list of the 5 most populous countries in the world.


I still remember that a few years ago I was writing about China when the government was conducting a census. While in other countries this task is completed in one day, arduous yes, but one day at last, here it lasted for several days. Today China has 1.439.323.776 inhabitants. Twenty years ago it was a little smaller, with around 1.268.300 inhabitants. It grew an average of 13.4% in these two decades, although it is expected that by 2050 it will decrease a little and is halfway between the two figures.

As we said above the great challenge of the Chinese government is to provide education, housing, health and work to all of them. Do the Chinese live well distributed throughout the territory? Not, most live in the eastern half of the country And only in Beijing, the capital, there are 15 and a half million people. The capital is followed by Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chongqinh and Wuhan, the notorious city where Covid-19 emerged.

The most interesting data about the population in China is that the population growth rate is 0,37% (There are 12.2 births per thousand inhabitants and 8 deaths). Life expectancy here is 75.8 years. Let us remember that in 1975 the One Child Policy as a measure to control population growth (contraception and legal abortion), and that has been quite successful. For some time now, the measure has been relaxed under certain conditions.


The second most populous country in the world is India with 1.343.330.000 inhabitants The people live distributed throughout much of the country, except in the mountains of the north and in the deserts of the northwest. India has 2.973.190 square kilometers of surface and in New Delhi alone there are 22.654 inhabitants. The population growth rate is 1.25% and the birth rate is 19.89 births per thousand inhabitants. Life expectancy is barely 67.8 years.

The largest cities in India are Mumbai with almost 20 million, Calcutta with 14.400, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

United States

There is a big difference between the total populations of the countries that are in the first and second position and that of the third. The United States is a populous country but not so much. It has 328.677 thousand people and the vast majority are concentrated on the east and west coasts. 

The growth rate is only 0.77% and the birth rate is 13.42 per thousand people. The largest cities in the country are New York where 8 and a half million people live, Los Angeles with almost half, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia. Life expectancy is 88.6 years.


Did you know that Indonesia is a very, very populated country? They inhabit it 268.074 people. It also has the most populous city in the world: Java. Indonesia's territory is 1.811.831 square kilometers. The birth rate is 17.04 births per thousand people and life expectancy is 72.17 years.

The cities with the largest population, in addition to Java, are Surabaya, Bandung, Medan, Semarang and Palembang. Remember that Indonesia is an archipelago in Southeast Asia. There are about 17 thousand islands, six thousand inhabited, around the equator. The largest islands are Sumatra, Java, Bali, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, the Nusa Tenggara Islands, the Moluccas. West Papua and the western part of New Guinea.


There is another American country in this top 5 of the most populous countries in the world and it is Brazil. It has a population of 210.233.000 million people and most of them live on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean because a good part of the territory is jungle.

The Brazilian territory has 8.456.511 square kilometers. The birth rate is 17.48 births per thousand people and the life expectancy is 72 years.. The largest cities in the country are São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Belo Horizonte, Recife and Porto Alegre. Brazil is huge and covers a good part of South America. In fact it is the largest country on the continent.

These are the 5 most populous countries in the world, but followed by Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Russia and Mexico. Further on the list are Japan, Philippines, Ethiopia, Egypt, Vietnam, Congo, Germany, Iran, Turkey, France, Thailand, United Kingdom, Italy, South Africa, Tanzania, Myanmar, South Korea, Spain, Colombia, Argentina, Algeria , Ukraine…

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