In the 1950s the world looked very different. Data from the United Nations shows that the global population was around 2.5 billion. Today, that number is almost 7.5 billion and is expected to rise to 9.7 billion by 2050.

In the middle of the 20th Century, China was home to 500 million people and, like today, it was the world’s the most populous nation, followed by India and the United States.

But, based on current trends, the list of the world's most populous nations could look very different by 2060.



This animation, created by Aron Strandberg, uses UN data to show the population growth of the 12 most populous countries between 1950 and 2060.

Image: Aron Strandberg

Over the past half century, China has remained in the top spot, but it is expected to be overtaken by India in 2022.

In 2020, India is predicted to have over 1,383,000 million citizens, compared to China’s 1,402,000 million.

Just eight years later, India is set to have gained over 100 million people, while China’s population is only expected to have increased by 1.4 million.

There’s another country on the list that is growing rapidly - Nigeria.

In 1950, Nigeria had a population of around 37 million. By 2015, it was more than 182 million.

Nigeria, which has a high fertility rate and a large youth population, will continue to see rapid expansion, and is expected to overtake the US to become the third most populous nation by 2060.

Image: Aron Strandberg

Another interesting case is the Democratic Republic of Congo, which had a population of around 12 million in 1950. That figure is expected to reach 237 million by 2060.

Image: Aron Strandberg

The animation shows how the nation is projected to experience huge growth in its youth population.

By contrast, Brazil, consistently one of the world's most populous countries, will see its ageing population increase while overall numbers decline.

European countries including the UK, Germany and Italy were among the world’s most populous nations in the 1950s. Today, they no longer make the top 12. The animation also shows Russia, the fourth most populous country in 1950, disappearing from the list by 2040.