Charted: The World’s Most Populous Countries (1973–2023)


This post is by Nick Routley from Visual Capitalist


World at 8 Billion Report

VC+ members get access to our World at 8 Billion Report.

Gain access to this exclusive new report and webinar by becoming a VC+ member.

Data visualization showing the world's top 10 most populous countries over the past 50 years

The World’s Most Populous Countries (1973–2023)

Humankind is now double the size it was in 1973.

Of course, that growth has been far from uniform, and the ranking of the world’s most populous countries continues to evolve.

Using the latest data available from the United Nations, we’ve looked at which countries have the largest share of the planet’s eight billion people.

The Top 10 Most Populous Countries

Here are the countries shown above, including how much they’ve grown over the past 50 years:

CountryPopulation (1973)Population (2023)Change (1973–2023)
🇨🇳 China881,652,0841,425,671,353↑ 544,019,269
🇮🇳 India596,107,4871,428,627,666↑ 832,520,179
🇺🇸 United States207,314,772339,996,567↑ 132,681,795
🇷🇺 Russia132,191,636144,444,360↑ 12,252,724
🇮🇩 Indonesia124,709,060277,534,118↑ 152,825,058
🇯🇵 Japan109,679,473123,294,516↑ 13,615,043
🇧🇷 Brazil103,666,906216,422,450↑ 112,755,544
🇩🇪 Germany78,667,47383,294,634↑ 4,627,161
🇧🇩 Bangladesh711,44,816172,954,325↑ 101,809,509
🇵🇰 Pakistan64,285,630240,485,666↑ 176,200,036
🇳🇬 Nigeria59,605,450223,804,636↑ 164,199,186
🇲🇽 Mexico55,228,202128,455,563↑ 73,227,361

The numbers above highlight the extreme variance in growth for these world’s most populous countries. While Germany has grown by just 6% over the past 50 years, Pakistan and Nigeria have nearly quadrupled their populations.

Half a century ago, there were only six countries with populations of over 100 million. Today, there are 15 countries past that mark, with Vietnam positioned to hit that milestone (Read more...)