Map Monday: changes in world populations through the ages and associated factors for today’s world

Welcome back to Map Monday.  This week we’re going to use cartograms to illustrate our story.  Remember, cartograms are these strange looking maps that distort the shape of countries to reflect their relative contribution to the total amount being displayed.

Starting with world population, these cartograms show how populations have shifted as well as grown over time, as new places were discovered or colonized, as disease, war or climate changes decimated populations and/or people migrated elsewhere.  I wish I could have found a more thorough collection of these cartograms for earlier times.

1 AD.  World population was about 230 million people.  Notice how many people were in Mexico and parts of South America compared to north of Mexico.


1500 AD.  World population was about 460 million (doubled in 1500 years).  Notice that the populations in Mexico and Peru had continued to expand, with sophisticated societies that had yet to encounter the Spanish conquistadors.


1900 AD.  World population was about 1,600 million (3.5 times greater in 400 years). 


1960 AD.  World population was about 3,042 million (nearly doubled in 60 years).


2020 AD.  World population was about 7,800 million (2.5 times greater in 60 years). (


2050 AD.  World population projected to be about 9,735 million (1.5 times greater in 30 years) Believe it or not, growth really is slowing. (


Here are two cartograms for 2018, the first one showing where the bulk of the people are and the second one showing where the bulk of the wealth resides.  No surprises.


Ecological footprint per country.  The definition of an ecological footprint is the impact of a person or community on the environment, expressed as the amount of land required to sustain their use of natural resources. (


CO2 emissions.  The size indicates the amount of emissions while the colour indicates the amount per capita.  China, the U.S. and India are the largest emitters, but on a per capita basis the U.S. emits twice as much CO2 as China and eight times as much as India, as does Canada, I’m sad to say. (


Carbon footprint per country.  This shows the carbon footprint of all goods and services in a country, including imports but not exports.  Carbon emissions from major exporting countries like China show less of a carbon footprint than their emissions, while net importers such as the UK show a larger carbon footprint than they do carbon emissions. (


Trash per person per country.  I couldn’t find a cartogram of this piece of information, but I thought it belonged in this collection. (


And finally, in the midst of all this enormous population and the increasing challenges we are throwing at our natural world, this cartogram attempts to pinpoint the existential risk to our planet’s plant and animal species, including both endangered and vulnerable species. The cartogram shows countries resized according to all animal and plant species assessed as being at risk of local extinction. (

Sorry if I’ve overwhelmed you with too many maps, but at least you’ve got lots to contemplate until next time! 🙂

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14 Responses to Map Monday: changes in world populations through the ages and associated factors for today’s world

  1. Pingback: How to look back at Cop26 | Marcus Ampe's Space

  2. Wow, that is a lot to contemplate. I hope the growth rate, and especially consumption, continues to slow. I know there are many of us who are no longer interested in acquiring stuff, nor consuming at the rate we did 30 years ago. I do believe there are positive changes happening, though I worry they’re coming too slowly.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      We’ll live in hope, Debra. It will be interesting to see if loosening of pandemic restrictions open the floodgates of consumerism or whether people will have realized with 18 months’ practice that they don’t need more ‘stuff’.

      • I think there will be a lot of both, but I hope I’m wrong. So many people are already booking cruises and trips, just for fun and not just a need to visit friends and family. I’m all for fun, but let’s not overdo it! From what I’ve read, cruise ships on the water again are a step backward when it comes to energy conservation.

        • Jane Fritz says:

          I know. The planes and especially the cruise ships bother me, but I feel hypocritical saying so because I’ve already been so many places before any of us understood the extraordinary impact.

  3. Roy McCarthy says:

    Yes, numbers wouldn’t be the problem if we all lived the simple life. And if Columbus (or the Vikings or St Brendan) hadn’t ‘discovered’ America and left it alone those maps would look way different.

  4. BernieLynne says:

    It’s interesting to look at the growth over time as you have done. In China they are experiencing a downward trend and are trying to reverse that and although I know why it’s not a bad thing their number is reducing. I really enjoy these posts but also recognize how much time and energy goes into pulling them together so thanks!

  5. Cartograms though strange looking maps make for fascinating reading, as Laurie commented when ‘stacked’ around a context these maps tell fascinating stories……………. 😦 I’m sad to say 7,900,000,000 humans souls wandering (most aimlessly) this planet are many many millions tooo many! (Always enjoy map Mondays, but lol I often ask myself will Jane one day run out of ideas? I’d guess no)

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Lol, there are many, many maps to find, A.S. I don’t think I’ll run out. Or maybe I could just start looking for data and making my own maps to convey the data’s messages! 😏 7.9B people is too many for the lifestyle expectations of those of us who live in the so-called wealthy countries. We’re using and abusing far more than our fair share of the planet’s resources. Since I don’t see that changing in a big hurray, the number of people is indeed a challenge.

  6. Those maps tell the story. Too many of us using too many resources. Our numbers are going down. Let us hope they continue going down, and that we can learn to stem our destructive ways.

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