Another billion people will be added to the world's population within the next 15 years according to new estimates released by the United Nations (UN).
That means the total population will be 8.5 billion in 2030, compared to today's 7.3 billion. This will grow to 9.7 billion in 2050, and 11.2 billion by 2100.
The UN figures show that at present Asia holds the most people with 60 percent of the world's population while on the other end of the scale only five percent reside in North America and Oceania. In between is Africa with 16 percent, Europe with 10 percent, and 9 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean. India and China are the most populated countries, with almost 40 percent of the world population.
But according to World Bank data compiled from the UN figures by scientist Tarig Khokhar, those above numbers won’t stay that way for long. He said the world as we know it is set to change in "surprising ways".
The figures show that although the world's population is growing substantially, it is growing at a slower and slower pace. Presently it grows at about 83 million people per year (the population of Germany) but growth overall has slowed to 1.18 percent per year compared to 1.24 percent a decade ago, with the UN expecting growth to gradually level off. Although global population is expected to rise in the short term, the UN said there was a 1 in 4 chance that before 2100, the world's population will stabilize or fall.
Asked how accurate the UN predictions are, Khokar said the organization had a good track record with population forecasting. He cited its 1948 projection of the world population being around 6 billion in 2000, which was less than five percent off from what it was.
The UN’s predictions for Africa are dramatic with population expected to double by 2100. At present Africa contains 16 percent of the world's population, with the UN expecting that to rise to 25 percent in 2050 and 49 percent before 2100. Reason given are that the continent is so young, and because fertility rates are high with 50 percent of the continent’s population under the age of 24 in 2015 with many of these having children in the next few decades. Nigeria is expected to have a bigger population than America by about 2050 at which stage it would become the third largest country in the world, population wise.
In contrast, the data shows Asia’s population to peak and then begin to fall, since it has an aging populations. Figures for Europe, Latin America, Northern America and Oceania are predicted to stay fairly constant.
The UN figures predict that half of the world’s population growth will occur before 2050 and will be concentrated in nine countries: Nigeria India, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Pakistan, Indonesia and USA..
India is on track to edge out China and become the world’s most populated country. China currently has 1.38 billion people, and India 1.31 billion in India. By 2022, both nations will see their populations increase to 1.4 billion, after which time China’s aging population will level off, but India's population will continue growing to 1.5 billion in 2030 and in 2050 to 1.7 billion.
With a quarter of Europe's population being 60 or over there will be little growth with the proportion of the 60 plus group rising to a third in 2050 and 2100.
Outside of Africa, the world's population is set to age and by 2050, a quarter or more of the population will be 60 and older. Populations in countries including Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Japan, Romania Republic of Moldova, Serbia, and will fall by over 15 percent by 2050.
The UN figures show that the median age of the world's population is now 29.6 years, and will rise to 36 in 2050 and in 2100 it will be 42.