Geographies in Depth

These will be the world's most populous countries by 2030

Population in India

India is set to become the world's most populated country by 2030. Image: REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri/File Photo

Joe Myers
Writer, Forum Agenda
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  • India is set to be the world's most heavily populated country by 2030.
  • More than a third of humanity will live in India or China by 2030.
  • The world's population is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030 and more than 10 billion by the end of the century.

India is set to become the world's most populous country by the end of the decade, overtaking China, according to the latest edition of the United Nations' World Population Prospects.

India's population is set to rise to 1.515 billion in 2030, from 1.417 billion in 2022. China's population, by contrast, is expected to fall slightly from 1.426 billion to 1.416 billion over the same period.

The two countries' populations remain significantly ahead of all other nations – nowhere else will have a population beyond 360 million by 2030. Indeed, with the global population forecast to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, more than one in every three people on Earth will live in India or China.

Global population size
The changing global population. Image: UN World Population Prospects

The top 10 most populous countries

The United States will remain the world's third-most populous country in 2030.

In fact, there's little change in the top 10 over the next 8 years. China and India swap places and Ethiopia leapfrogs Japan, Mexico and Russia to go from 12th in 2022 to 9th by 2030.

The world's most populous countries in 2030
India is set to overtake China by the end of the decade.

A changing global population

The new edition of World Population Prospects looks at how populations may change throughout the rest of the century, with forecasts suggesting the global population could hit 10.4 billion in 2100.

However, the report also finds that more than half of the global population growth between now and 2050 is expected to be in just eight countries – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and the United Republic of Tanzania.

Other significant changes globally include the growth of the world's older population. The share of the population aged above 65 is projected to grow by the end of the century, while the share below 25 is expected to fall.

The global support ratio – which takes the number of people aged 25-64 and divides it by the number aged 65 or over – is set to fall from 5.1 last year to 2.0 by 2100.

Population pyramids: 1950-2050
1950 to 2050: A century of change. Image: UN World Population Prospects
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