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Shoppers in Shanghai Shoppers throng a main street in Shanghai, China—the world’s most populated city. (AP Images)

Global Population: 7 Billion

The number of people in the world hits a new high point

By Lisa M. Herrington | null null , null
<p>Could this baby, born on October 31 in Turkey, be the 7-billionth person alive today? (Nezih Tavlas, UNPF / <br />AP Images)</p>

Could this baby, born on October 31 in Turkey, be the 7-billionth person alive today? (Nezih Tavlas, UNPF /
AP Images)

The world’s population recently reached an important milestone: 7 billion people. The global head count hit that massive number this week, according to the United Nations (U.N.).

Over the past century, the number of people on the planet hasn’t just grown—it has exploded. In 1804, the global population was 1 billion. It took 123 years for it to grow by another billion. But the leap from 6 billion to 7 billion took just 12 years.

GLOBAL GROWTH

So where do all these people live? Nearly 4 out of every 10 people on the planet live in either China or India. With more than 312 million people, the U.S. ranks third behind those two countries.

Better nutrition and advances in medicine are big factors in the population growth. People today are healthier and living longer than those in past generations. Also, the number of babies being born in some areas has soared. In the time it takes to read this sentence, about 25 babies will have been born worldwide.

MAJOR CHALLENGES

Experts warn that a bigger population presents serious challenges. The rising number of people puts a strain on Earth’s limited natural resources. Developing countries in Africa and Asia have seen the greatest population boom in recent years. Most people in those nations are poor and lack food and clean water. Those countries currently don’t have enough schools. There also aren’t enough jobs to go around. World leaders are working on ways to address these issues and improve basic living conditions.

The world’s population growth is expected to slow down, but just slightly. The U.N. estimates that the number of people in the world may reach 8 billion in 2025.

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