Growth of the World's Population


Today, almost 7 billion people live on our earth. Each year, the world’s population grows by about 80 million. If it continues to grow at such a rate the world’s population will reach 9 billion by the year 2035.


World Population from the Beginnings to the Present

Human beings have been living on earth for over a million years, but for a long time there were not very many of them. The world’s population was never higher than 10 million. People died quickly because they didn’t have enough food to eat. Early inhabitants were mostly hunters and fishers. Some of them gathered berries from wild plants. After people started growing crops and raising animals they had more food and lived longer.

When Jesus Christ was born about 2,000 years ago about 300 million people inhabited the earth. During the next 1500 years the population of the world grew very slowly. Many people died of illnesses and plagues . The Black Death , which sailors brought to Europe from Asia, killed about a third of the European population in the Middle Ages.

The Industrial Revolution , which began in the middle of the 18th century, started a period of rapid population growth , especially in Europe. Farmers were able to grow more and more food because they had machines to work with. New kinds of medicine helped to fight off many diseases that had killed millions of people in the centuries before. Humans also lived longer because they had cleaner drinking water.


growth of world population

Development of the world's population

Birth rates started to go up because families had many children. More babies than ever before survived the first few years of childhood . The one billion mark was reached in the early 1800s. In the next one hundred years the population doubled to 2 billion, and in 1960 there were 3 billion people living on earth.

The second half of the 20th century brought along some change :

  • In Europe , North America, Japan and Australia the birth rate dropped because families wanted to have fewer children. Population growth in these areas slowed down .
  • In the developing countries of Asia and Africa birth rates stayed high and better medical help in these regions lowered the death rates. That is why these countries are growing very rapidly .

In the last 30 years the world’s population has doubled. The fastest growing region , Africa, has a growth rate of 2.8 %, the slowest growing region, Europe, about 0.3 %. On average, the world’s population is growing at a rate of 1.5 % per year.

World Population distribution by continent


The 10 most populous countries in the world (2005)





United States

















World Population- Table of Contents


Downloadable PDF Text- and Worksheets


Online Exercises





  • A.D. = the year when Jesus Christ was born
  • average = usually, normally
  • berry = small soft fruit
  • billion = one thousand million
  • birth rate = shows how many babies are born for every 1,000 people in a year
  • childhood = the time when you are a child
  • continue = go on
  • crop =a plant that farmers grow and use as food
  • developing countries = poor countries of the Third World
  • double = to become twice as big or twice as much
  • drop = go down
  • especially =above all
  • fewer =less, a smaller amount
  • fight off =to keep away
  • gather = collect
  • growth =if something gets bigger or larger
  • human beings = people
  • illness = disease
  • inhabit =to live in a place
  • inhabitants = same as “population”
  • lower =drop fall
  • mark =number
  • period = age, time
  • plague = a disease that spreads very fast and kills many people
  • population = the number of people living in a place
  • populous =many people live in an area
  • present =now, at this time
  • raise animals = to look after them and then sell them as food
  • rapid = fast
  • rate = speed
  • reach = get to
  • slow down = to become slower
  • survive =to live on