Census around the World

Ireland isn’t the only country holding a census in 2011. Most countries around the world hold a census at least once every ten years, usually in years ending in a 0 or 1, depending on the country. So in 2010 and 2011 a census has been held or is about to be held in many countries worldwide to count over two-thirds of the population of the world. This includes all member states of the EU which are required to hold a census in 2011 under an EU Regulation.

In 2010 a census was held in Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States of America among others.

In 2011 a census will take place in each of the 27 EU member states in addition to Australia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Canada, Iceland, India, Kosovo, Latvia, Nepal, Serbia, South Africa and Sri Lanka.

If you would like to find out more about the census being carried out in other countries check out their websites using the following links:


Different methods used to carry out a census.

Worldwide there are various different methods employed to carry out the census.

In Ireland we use what we call the traditional method which involves teams of enumerators calling to each household in the country to deliver and collect census forms.

In some other countries, such as the US, forms are posted to all households and householders are asked to complete the forms and return them by post. An enumerator only calls where a completed form is not received.

In the UK another variation of the system will be used in 2011, whereby forms will be posted to all households and householders will be given the option to complete and return the form online or by post. Again enumerators will only call in cases where forms are not completed.

In 2010 and 2011 a small number of countries have opted to use digital enumeration techniques including online completion of forms. In 2010 Brazil used hand-held personal digital assistants (PDAs) and laptops with GPS for census takers to record and transmit census data.

Some other countries compile the census by reference to other administrative records, through sample surveys or a combination of these and other more traditional methods.

Population of the World

The world population has grown tremendously over the past two thousand years. In 1999, the world population passed the six billion mark for the first time. The United Nations determined that this occurred on 12 October 1999, the "Day of 6 Billion".
There are varying estimates for the current world population. The latest official current world population estimate, for mid-year 2010, is estimated at 6.89 billion.

Population Clocks

A number of statistical organisations around the world maintain population clocks to estimate their population, and in some cases the world population, on an ongoing basis. These are based on formulas which take account of the various factors affecting the rate of population change. You can view an example of these real-time estimates of the global population on the US Census Bureau website.

These population clocks only give an approximate population of the world and their estimates vary. The data collected in the census held in each country will indicate how accurate these forecasts are. However, all the estimates put the current world population in the region of approximately 6.9 billion and growing. This is an increase of 15% over the 1999 population and at this rate of growth it is estimated that the population will reach 7 billion by 2012.

Some interesting facts about the world population

The Worlds most populous regions

Asia accounts for approximately 60% of the world population with more than 4 billion people.
The share of the total population for each continent is:

Continent% of world population
Asia 60
Africa 15
Europe 11
Latin America & the Carribean 8.5
North America 5
Australasia/Oceania 0.5

The worlds most populous Countries:

Estimates show that approximately 4 billion people live in the most populous ten countries of the world, representing 58.6% of the world's population in 2010.

Country 2010 Estimated population (millions)
China 1,338
India 1,189
United States 310
Indonesia 235
Brazil 193
Pakistan 185
Bangladesh 164
Nigeria 158
Russia 142
Japan 127

Source: Population Reference Bureau 2010 World Population Data Sheet

The World’s most populous Cities

The world’s largest city by size of population is Shanghai in China with more than 14 million people, over three times the size of the total population of Ireland. The ten most populous cities according to 2008 UN data are:

Country2008 Population (Millions)
Shanghai, China 14,349
Mumbai (Bombay), India 11,978
Bejing (Peking), China 11,510
Sao Paulo, Brazil 10,990
Moscow, Russia 10,490
Seoul, South Korea 10,032
Delhi, India 9,879
Chongqing, China
Karachi, Pakistan 9,339
Jakarta, Indonesia 8,821

Source UN Statistics Division. Demographic Yearbook 2008.

Number of humans who have ever lived

It’s interesting to wonder how many humans have ever lived. While we will never know, various estimates have been made ranging from approximately 100 to 115 billion.

Interested in getting more information?

Check out the following UN and EU website to see other interesting world and EU population information

United Nations Population Information Network (POPIN)
United Nations Statistical Division (UNSD)
The Statistical Office of the European Communities (EUROSTAT)