The United Nations projects that world population growth will slow significantly over the course of the 21st century, coming close to its peak at 10.9 billion by 2100. But how is this growth distributed across the world? How does the world look in 2100 compared to today?
In the chart below we see the global population split by region. This shows historical data, but also projections to 2100 based on the UN’s medium growth scenario.
The striking change between now and 2100 is the expected growth in the African population. Today, its population is around 1.3 billion; by 2100 it’s projected to more than triple to 4.3 billion.
Over the past 50 years Asia experienced rapid population growth. Today its population stands at around 4.6 billion. By 2050 it’s expected to rise to 5.3 billion, but then fall in the latter half of the century. You can read more about the driving force behind these demographic changes here. By 2100 Asia’s population is projected to fall almost back to levels we see today.
You can use the ‘relative’ toggle in the chart below to see each region’s share of the world population. Here we see that today Africa has just over 17% of the global population; by 2100 this is projected to rise to 40%. Asia will see a significant fall from almost 60% today to just over 40% in 2100.
By the end of the century, more than 8 out of every 10 people in the world will live in Asia or Africa.
North, Central and South America, and Oceania, are projected to also see a rise in population this century – but this growth will be much more modest relative to growth in Africa. Europe is the only region where population is expected to fall – today its population stands at around 747 million; by 2100 this is projected to fall to 630 million.
These changes will bring new opportunities and challenges. Extreme poverty, for example, is expected to become increasingly concentrated in Africa in the decades which follow. This will represent a major shift from the century before.