Map Monday: Where are all the people?

We humans have been on the move for a long time, a very, very long time.  Movement between countries, cultures, and continents may have seemed to slow down for a brief period of time, but not really so much so.  Many factors keep arising to encourage relocation: war and ongoing conflicts, economic distress and/or opportunity, famine, increasing dislocation because of climate change, and so much more.  We’re a mobile society, and in many ways we always have been.  Taking just one relatively recent example (what’s 50 years?!), the existence of the EU (formerly the European Community) fostered cross-border movement within the EU, and now Brexit is encouraging/forcing movement away from the UK.  There’s always something.

Let’s take a look at what shifting populations look like around the world.  Aside from immigration and migration there are also varying levels of new births and varying levels of living standards and healthcare, resulting in vast differences in life expectancies.

One thing to keep in mind is that most of these maps present population trends in 2020 and so don’t reflect the effects of the global pandemic or the impact of increased numbers of refugees (and loss of life) from the world’s most recent war inflicted on Ukraine by Russia.

We’ll start by reminding ourselves of the world’s population.  The first map is straightforward; it presents the population within each country. [As always, you can click on any of the maps to get a better look at the details]


Now let’s think about the number of people in each country with respect to its geographical size, in other words each country’s population density.  The next two maps show each country’s population density, using first a conventional world map and then the world population density using a cartogram.  Remember, in a cartogram the size of a country is proportional to the size of its population. Notice how in the cartogram geographically large countries like Canada, Russia, and Australia nearly disappear!  We have land, lots of land … it’s just that most of it is either under snow and ice (but maybe not so much so in a few decades) or is uninhabitable desert as in Australia.


The cartogram of word population densities.WorldDensityCartogram

Now let’s take a look at this next intriguing map that shows population density around the world by latitude.  Look at where everyone lives!  This isn’t going to be so much fun as the warm weather gets hotter and hotter … and hotter.


Next we’ll take a look at the makeup of the population in each country. Which countries are gaining more by immigration and which ones are losing?

From the website Visual Capitalist, a look at the changes across the world in snapshots of 1990, 2005, and 2020.  Don’t forget that this includes all of us who weren’t born in the country in which we now live as citizens or permanent residents.  It’s not simply reflecting brand new immigrants by any stretch of the imagination.  For example, I am one of the many proud immigrants to Canada.  Of our closest friends fully half would be counted as immigrants, maybe more.  That needs to be kept in mind.




Now let’s take a look at which countries have the fastest declining populations, due both to outward migration and deaths exceeding births.


And, finally, a look at the world’s oldest countries (by age of population, not history) versus the world’s youngest.


It will be interesting to see what these maps look like in as little as 10 years, when, among other factors, some percentage of the world’s population currently living in the most “temperate” zones find that life there is no longer sustainable.

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24 Responses to Map Monday: Where are all the people?

  1. Victoria says:

    Thank you, Jane. The immigration maps are stunning. I love these time-oriented snapshots that you share…I feel like every time I look at them, a new observation pops. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fascinating information, Jane! I always learn from these posts of yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Phew! Those maps sure do tell our story. Yes, it will be interesting to see where we are in ten years. And how COVID has affected the numbers.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wynne Leon says:

    Wow, this is fascinating. As always, put together with your trademark sharpness for how to contrast, compare and contextualize our world. I love this post for how it makes me think!! Thank you, Jane!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rose says:

    Fascinating information Jane. I always enjoy how you put the world into terms easy to understand.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. An Audience of One says:

    Very interesting, particularly with the way you’ve presented the info and maps. As a side note, we lived in Canada when I was younger, but moved back to the States before obtaining immigrant status. Fun to know that you’re a Canadian immigrant. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Fascinating information which ties in quite nicely with a book I am currently reading and can highly recommend– Nomad Century, How Climate Migration Will Reshape Our World by Gaia Vince. Just published in 2022 and very current with all stats of which there seems to be lots!
    Happy reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Margaret says:

    Wow! So fascinating Jane and full of interesting facts and figures. I was especially interested in your maps representing ‘Immigration by country: as a percentage of the population’. I’m surprised the changes aren’t more significant in some areas. Media coverage has a huge impact on our perception doesn’t it?!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It certainly will be interesting to see what the maps look like in ten years. I always find it so interesting how comparable Australia is to us on these maps, yet we’re in very different parts of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Roy McCarthy says:

    When I was about 10 our teacher said we could pick a topic to write about. I had a childish fascination with population generally, but my choice of topic was not allowed as ‘too difficult’. I hold that grudge to this day 🙂
    Jersey (C.I.) has recently tipped over 50% of residents born elsewhere, me included.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jane Fritz says:

      LOL. I’d say that was a grudge worth holding, Roy. How sad for a teacher to dissuade a child from exploring a topic of interest for being too difficult! Interesting about Jersey’s immigrant levels as well. I don’t know about you, but when these stats come out I have to stop and remind myself that I’m one of those immigrants!


  11. Jean says:

    Americans perceive their country as setting less of an immigration target for next 2 years or so, compared to Canada, because of their volume of border crossers from Mexico, etc. I stress their own explanation …from laypeople. What I found fascinating is asylum seekers so desperate to get into U.S….so they go through Canada to achieve this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jane Fritz says:

      I know, I always find that the strangest thing, too. And I always wonder, if they’ve gone to all the trouble to get to Canada, why wouldn’t they want to stay here anyway. I think most of those people are at the mercy of the smugglers they’ve paid their life savings to. What a sad world for so many people.


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