Each of the dots in the map below indicates 1 million people, with some of the dots placed in the middle of a more spread-out population. The video demonstrates how the world population grew from only 170 million people in 1 CE to nearly 7.4 billion currently. And according to recent estimates from the World Bank, we will add another 4 billion people by 2100.
The map starts shortly after the one minute mark in the video below. Make sure to watch to the end to see the most incredible part -- the exponential growth of the world's population since the Industrial Revolution.
One of the first things that jumps out at you from this video is that China and India have always been kind of a big deal. The huge populations of South and East Asia, especially around the Yellow and Ganges rivers, stretches back to ancient times. You can also see early civilizations along the Mediterranean Sea and the Nile River, and in Japan, Indonesia, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.
By contrast, the Americas are much more sparsely populated. You can see the Aztec and the Inca populations flourish around 1400, as well as some other ancient populations, like the Mayans and the Moche. But the population of the Americas doesn't really start to boom until after the Industrial Revolution.
If you watch the video closely, you can see some populations wane as well -- including Europe's loss of millions of people from the Black Death, and the fall of the Incan Empire with European colonization.
The WorldPopulationHistory.org site includes an interactive version of this map that tells you what civilizations all these dots represent. It also includes a cool site where you can enter your birthday to see how many people were alive on Earth when you were born. For example, if your birth is Jan. 1, 1980, the site shows you that there were 4,449,226,229 other people alive when you were born.
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