This video follows the top 15 countries or political units by population at any given year. It begins in the year 1600 and continues to the present, where more than 14 times the people now inhabit the planet.
Humanity has embarked on an unprecedented period of population growth over the past 400 years. Over the course of this demographic transition great changes have swept the planet with no government from 1600 remaining uninterrupted until the present.
A wide variety of sources made this work possible. Angus Maddison’s population tables, tacitus.nu, Geacron, the CIA Factbook, the World Bank, and several historical atlases all provided information over the last several months. Given the massive colonial empires prominent throughout much of the timeframe, all colonial populations are included as a part of the mother country.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of sources, many smaller realms and kingdoms have been excluded in earlier periods, especially Native American tribes, several Sub-Saharan African kingdoms, and the Aboriginal people of Oceania. This may mean early totals are a bit low. Following about 1800, the vast majority of the world is included in totals. The erratic changes on the bars are caused by border changes and the rise/fall of the various powers. Rather than tracking population in a static area, this visualization seeks to emphasize the changing nature of demographic power throughout history.